protect Admiral Boedicker. A very hot
engagement was the result. The Shark got off a torpedo at one of the cruisers, but was quickly smothered with the
fire of the squadron and its destroyers, and by the time Commander Jones knew
he had frustrated the attack on Admiral Hood and had turned back, his boat was
brought to a standstill. His old comrade, Lieutenant‑Commander Barron,
rushed up to take him in tow, but he would not hear of the Acasta, which was also badly damaged, being sunk for him, and
ordered her to leave him.
At this moment Captain P. M. R. Royds in the Canterbury appeared coming up to the
rescue from the southeast. By turning to the southward he enticed the
cruisers to chase, and for a while the Shark was left in peace. Presently, however, more destroyers, which Admiral
Hipper had ordered to attack Admiral Hood in order to cover his retirement,
came up and poured in a merciless fire. (The 12th Half Flotilla and the 9th
Flotilla.) In a moment her after gun was hit, and its crew killed, and
Commander Jones, who was himself controlling its fire, had a leg shot away at
the knee. Yet he continued to encourage his men to fight the only gun he had
left, until the Shark went down with
her flag still flying.
(An able seaman, C. C. Hope, thus describes
the scene after the captain was disabled: "The gaff on which the ensign
was flying was shot away, and Capt Jones asked what was wrong with the flag, and
appeared greatly upset. Then I climbed and unbent the ensign from the gaff. I
passed it down to Midshipman Smith, RNR, who hoisted it on the yardarm.
Commander Jones seemed then to be less worried." A petty‑officer
got the wounded captain to a life‑saving raft, but a few hours later he
died of exhaustion, to be awarded subsequently a posthumous Victoria
Cross. The six survivors were eventually picked up by the Danish steamer Vidar.)
So, maintaining to the last the finest
traditions of the Service, she came to her end. Upon her, as she lay helpless
yet unbeaten, the vast forces of which she formed so small a part were
converging to the crisis of the long‑foreseen day. Fourteen miles north‑west
Admiral Jellicoe was coming at high speed towards her, still in cruising order,
for as yet no word, other than half‑a‑dozen differing reports, had
come in to tell him where the German battle fleet was, and he was trying vainly
to ascertain its exact position that he might judge how best to deploy. (There
was a difference of over eight miles in the enemy's position as reported by
various vessels, and, although the messages sent from the Admiralty at 5.0 and
5.45 gave, as we now know, the position and course fairly accurately, little
reliance was placed upon them.)
Six miles south‑west of him was
Admiral Beatty. Heavily engaged again, and supported by the fire of the 5th
Battle Squadron, he had forced the German battle cruisers to turn east, and he
was altering to starboard in conformity when at 5.56, he had sight of the
battleships of the Grand Fleet, four miles
to the northward. "Thereupon," he says in his report, "I altered
course east and proceeded at utmost speed." (The signal "alter course
in succession to east," was made at 6.0. At 5.56 he had signalled "Alter
course in succession to N.E. by E. Speed 25 knots," and at this speed he
continued for the next twenty‑five minutes, when he increased a knot.)
Though his reasons for doing so are not
recorded, it was clearly of importance that he should keep firm hold of the
enemy's battle cruisers, so as to prevent them from sighting our battle fleet
and reporting it to Admiral Scheer. If, as he apparently thought most likely,
Admiral Jellicoe was going to deploy to starboard, that being the flank nearest
to the enemy, his easterly course would do no harm, and the reasons which
eventually convinced his chief that a deployment to starboard was tactically inadmissible can scarcely have been in his mind.
But for Admiral Jellicoe the movement was
difficult to understand. On the conflicting information he had he was still
expecting to meet the enemy right ahead, and as soon as he made out our battle
cruisers heading across his bows and engaged with an unseen enemy he flashed to
Admiral Beatty the query, "Where is the enemy's battle fleet? "
(6.1). Something was evidently wrong, for Admiral Beatty had appeared much
further to the westward than his position signals had indicated. Both
flagships, in fact, were out of their reckoning. The Lion's error was nearly seven miles west, and that of the Iron Duke over four miles east, so that
the cumulative error was about eleven miles. To Admiral Jellicoe it now seemed
probable that instead of the enemy being found ahead they would appear a little
on his starboard bow, and in order to gain ground in that direction he at once altered
to south (6.2). (See Diagram 30.)
A few minutes later, a rapid calculation,
however, convinced him that his new course would not do. It brought the
"guides" ‑ that is, the leading ships of divisions ‑ into
echelon, or, in technical phrase, they were "disposed quarterly" with
the starboard wing forward, a disposition very unfavourable for a deployment to
the eastward since it could not bring the line at right angles to the bearing
of the enemy. This was tactically essential for a good deployment, and before
it could be done the port guides must be brought up on the flagship's beam. But
it was now evident from various indications that the enemy was too near for
this disposition to be completed in time. A further effect of the errors in
reckoning was that he was likely
May 31, 1916
to get contact twenty minutes sooner than he
expected (See Diagram 31.)
Diagram 31 - The Deployment: From 6.15 to 6.26
It was therefore vital to get the fleet into
the best position immediately attainable for instant deployment in either
direction, and at 6.6, as the best he could do, he signalled course S.E., to
bring the guides approximately abreast again.
Just then Admiral Beatty, who was beginning
to pass across the starboard division of the battle fleet only two miles ahead
of the Marlborough, flashed back his
reply to the Commander‑in‑Chief's query, but it only said "Enemy's battle cruisers bearing S.E." This did no more than deepen the
obscurity. About ten minutes earlier Admiral Jellicoe had heard from Commodore Goodenough that the enemy's battle fleet had altered course to north and that
their battle cruisers bore S.W. from it. On this information it was
incomprehensible that the battle cruisers should have been sighted first, and
at his wits' end to fathom the situation the Commander‑in‑Chief
repeated to Admiral Beatty, "Where is the enemy's battle fleet? " At
the moment the Lion had no enemy in
sight. There was no immediate answer, and precious minutes went by with no
further light to determine the right direction for deployment.
perplexity was not lightened by the fact that Admiral Beatty in giving the
bearing of the enemy battle cruisers had omitted their course. In fact he had
lost sight of them, and did not know what it was. The reason was that Admiral
Hipper, finding himself in a corner too hot for him, had turned away, and with
his flagship in flames was retiring with all speed on Admiral Scheer. But
danger still lay in his path. For now came the Ophelia's chance. Driven off when the Shark attacked, Commander Crabbe had returned for another attempt,
and was rewarded by a fair shot at the German battle cruisers. The torpedo
missed, but these bold attacks were not without effect upon Admiral Hipper.
With Admiral Beatty engaging him to port and British destroyers continually
attacking him, he was confirmed in the impression which the appearance of
Admiral Hood's battle cruisers had made upon his mind, and he says it was
because he felt sure that he had run into our main fleet that he swung back to
retire on Admiral Scheer. This information he had passed to his chief before he
turned north‑eastwards again upon the same course as the battle fleet
(6.14). But even now he did not find rest from the worry of the insistent
British destroyers. Indeed, he was soon in worse predicament than ever, for he
found himself attacked upon both bows at once. To port was one of Admiral
Beatty's destroyers, the Onslow, to starboard was the Acasta. After Lieutenant‑Commander Tovey in the Onslow had been foiled in his attempt to attack with the Moresby during the run north, he had
taken station on the engaged bow of the Lion,
and as Admiral Beatty turned east he could see the Wiesbaden, in an excellent position for using his torpedoes, only
6,000 yards away. He immediately dashed at her, firing as he went to within
2,000 yards, when suddenly he found himself upon the port bow of the enemy's
battle cruisers. The Onslow at once
came under the fire of the advancing ships, but the chance against the battle
cruisers was too tempting to resist, and at 8,000 yards from the van ship
Lieutenant‑Commander Tovey ordered all torpedoes to be fired. But, as
luck would have it, at that very moment a heavy shell struck the Onslow amidships and she was enveloped
in clouds of escaping steam. Only one torpedo was got off, but Lieutenant‑Commander
Tovey, thinking all had been fired and finding his speed greatly reduced, began
to creep away to retire.
He too had missed, but the Acasta had not yet done. As Admiral
Hipper returned north‑eastwards she was just leaving the crippled Shark, and Lieutenant‑Commander
Barron, seeing the Luetzow coming up on
his port quarter, an admirably placed target, turned to attack. With a storm of
shell the enemy strove to baffle her attack. Yet undeterred, Lieutenant‑Commander
Barron fired. The shot seemed to go fairly home with a great explosion, and he
sped away with his boat so torn with shell that she could neither stop nor
steer. (The Acasta has been given the
credit for having made a successful shot on the Seydlitz during this attack, but it is now known from German
sources that the Seydlitz was only
torpedoed once - by the Petard,
earlier in the action.)
Meanwhile the Onslow had also been busy. Lieutenant-Commander Tovey, having
discovered as he retired that all his torpedoes had not been spent, as he
thought, had fired one of them as he passed close to the Wiesbaden, which hit heir fairly under the conning tower. The
explosion could be clearly seen and heard, but she did not sink. Scarcely had
he noted his success when another and a far more important target presented
itself. Some five miles away a whole line of German battleships loomed up in
the mist advancing upon him at high speed. What was he to do? He had two torpedoes
still in his tubes, but his engines were failing, his speed was down to ten
knots, and to turn to attack meant almost certain destruction, and yet he
turned. One destroyer
May 31, 1916
more or less, so he reasoned, mattered
little, while two torpedoes fired from an ideal position might materially
affect the action, and in this admirable spirit of devotion he decided to attack
again. Making for the advancing battleships he waited till his sights were on,
and at 8,000 yards fired his remaining torpedoes. Fair to cross the enemy's
line they ran as he struggled away, but the Germans manoeuvred to avoid them,
and there was no hit. So bold an attack with a crippled ship deserved a better
result, but the sacrifice that he faced was not required of him, and two days
later he got safely back to port. (After struggling away from the action the Onslow was taken in tow by the Defender another crippled destroyer,
and both succeeded in getting in to Aberdeen on June 2.)
Having avoided the Onslow's attack Admiral Scheer held on again, and so did Admiral
Hipper, for ahead of him could be seen one of his ships in sore distress.
Burning fiercely lay the helpless Wiesbaden,
still afloat, and some British cruisers were pouring into her a concentrated
fire. It was Admiral Arbuthnot with the 1st Cruiser Squadron that had appeared in
the thick of the fighting. We have last seen him closing in towards the 2nd
Cruiser Squadron as the visibility decreased, till by 5.50 he was right
ahead of the Iron Duke. (See Diagram
29 - repeated.)
Diagram 29 - From 5.40 to 6.0
The Warrior was with him, the Duke of Edinburgh two miles to starboard, and the Black
Prince out of sight to the westward. At that time the glitter of the Chester's action with Admiral Hipper's
light cruisers became visible on his starboard bow, and he turned to port to
bring his guns to bear just as Admiral Hipper was turning away from the
concentrated fire of our battle cruisers and the 5th Battle Squadron. As the
enemy became faintly visible Admiral Arbuthnot opened fire, but seeing his
salvoes fall short he turned to the southward, and as he ran down to close saw
the Wiesbaden lying disabled and in
flames. At the moment when he himself made his turn southward Admiral Beatty
had led round to the eastward to keep his teeth in Admiral Hipper, and now the Defence saw the battle cruisers coming
up fast from the westward across her course. (See Diagram 30 - repeated.)
Diagram 30 - From 6.0 to 6.15
But Admiral Arbuthnot was not to be baulked.
The Battle Orders laid it down clearly that the first duty of cruisers in a
fleet action was to engage the enemy's cruisers (prior to deployment their duty
was that of reconnaissance in conjunction with, and in support of the light
cruisers) and with the Warrior close
astern, firing with all guns that would bear he held on so close athwart the Lion's bows that she was forced
MAIN FLEETS IN
to deviate from her course to clear, while
the Duke of Edinburgh, which was
coming down more to the westward, turned east on Admiral Beatty's. disengaged
side. Both the Defence and Warrior had already hit the doomed Wiesbaden. Still Admiral Arbuthnot, in
spite of straddling salvoes, held on till within 5,500 yards of his prey he
turned to starboard. Both ships were now in a hurricane of fire, which the
Germans were concentrating with terrible effect to save their burning ship, and
there quickly followed yet another of the series of those appalling
catastrophes which make this battle so tragically memorable. Four minutes
after crossing the Lion's bows, the Defence was hit by two heavy salvoes in
quick succession, and the Admiral and his flagship disappeared in a roar
of flame (6.20). The Warrior barely
escaped a similar fate. Labouring away with damaged engines she was only saved
by the Warspite of the 5th Battle
Squadron. At the critical moment, for reasons that will appear directly, this
ship was seen to leave the line, and flying the "Not under control"
signal she made a complete circle round the damaged cruiser. For a while both
were in a rain of shell, till the storm of the battle passed to the eastward
and they were left in peace. So ended the first bold, if ill‑judged,
attempt at individual action by a spirited squadron commander.
Against the loss of one ship Admiral Scheer
had now to his credit the destruction of two battle cruisers and one cruiser,
but of this he was unaware at the time. (Admiral Jellicoe did not know the
extent of his own losses until the forenoon of the following day.)
Suddenly the whole scene changed. As the
cloud of smoke and flame in which the Defence had perished died away, the leading ships of the two German lines could see,
out of the grey beyond, an interminable line of huge ships stretching across
their course with both ends of it lost in the mist. (Hase, Kiel and Jutland, pp. 177‑8.)
For Admiral Scheer, who believed that our
fleet was operating in dispersed detachments, the sight came with a shock of
surprise. Within range ahead of him a mass of British Dreadnoughts were
deploying, and, confident as he might have been in the success of his bold and
well‑laid plan, he had met his match. Instead of cutting off a detached
squadron of his enemy, as he hoped, he suddenly found himself in present danger
of being entrapped by at least the bulk of the Grand Fleet.
Until Admiral Jellicoe was almost in sight
of the German battle fleet he still could not tell where it was by several
miles. Owing to unavoidable errors in reckoning, the reports he
had been receiving were too conflicting for
more than wide approximation. It was a situation which his long aperience of
manceuvres had led him to anticipate, and one against which he had done his
best to provide. Seeing that correct deploying depended absolutely on knowing
the enemy's exact position, course and speed, he had insisted in his Battle
Orders on the importance of securing visual touch at the earliest moment, and
had issued a special warning that the necessary precision was not to be expected
from wireless. He himself had arranged for visual touch with the Hampshire as connecting ship
between his light cruiser screen and his advanced scout line, but, as we have
seen, the high speed at which he had been coming down ever since he knew the
enemy was at sea made it impossible for that line to get far enough ahead. In
the battle cruiser force things were still worse.
Though Commodore Goodenough had kept
admirable station astern all through, Admiral Beatty in the rapid changes of
course in the early part of the action had for a while lost touch with his
other two squadrons, and they were not able to get into visual contact again
with the Lion until 5.0, when it was
too late to extend either of them to link up with the Commander‑in‑Chief's
advanced screen. Thus it was that Admiral Jellicoe had nothing to guide him but
the confusing wireless messages which led him to believe that the German battle
fleet must be farther advanced and more to the eastward than it actually was.
It was indeed only due to the effect of the preliminary fighting that he was
not more seriously misled. During the chase northward Admiral Scheer's fleet
had straggled out, and at 5.45, when he began to scent the presence of our
battle fleet, he was forced to slacken speed and allow his slower squadrons to
close up into battle order. (See Diagram 29 - repeated.)
Diagram 29 - From 5.40 to 6.0
Five minutes later he could hear the Wiesbaden saying she was out of control,
and he ordered the fleet to incline two points to starboard towards her. But
for this the head of his line must have been some miles more to the westward
than it was when it came into view.
In spite of all doubt, however, Admiral
Jellicoe, after hearing where the enemy battle cruisers were, was becoming
convinced he would have to deploy to the eastward, and (6.8) ordered his three
flotillas of destroyers to take up the necessary disposition. (This was
Disposition No. 1, under which two flotillas would be to port of the line of
approach and one to starboard. Preparatory to deployment, one flotilla would take
station three miles on the starboard bow of the starboard wing, and one
three miles on the port bow of the port wing, the third being two miles abeam
of the port flotilla. On deployment to the eastward he would thus have two flotillas
in the van and one in the rear. The three mile distance was selected as
being the best for enabling flotillas to deliver attacks on the enemy battle
fleet and to repel similar attacks on our own.)
But at 6.14, four minutes after he
had repeated his urgent inquiry as to where
the enemy's battle fleet was, all doubt was set at rest. Just before the Lion had cleared the Defence,
the head of Admiral Scheer's line suddenly appeared out of the gloom on her
starboard beam, and Admiral Beatty signalled "Have sighted the enemy's
battle fleet bearing S.S.W." In the course of the next few minutes his leading
vessels were heavily engaged with the van of the enemy's battle fleet. The Barham had also seen them to S.S.E..
and was trying to get a message through, but her flags could not be seen, and
her wireless was not received till it was too late to be of use.
Many had been the critical situations which
British admirals in the past had been called upon suddenly to solve, but never
had there been one which demanded higher qualities of leadership, ripe
judgment and quick decision, than that which confronted Admiral Jellicoe in
this supreme moment of the naval war. There was not an instant to lose if
deployment were to be made in time. The enemy, instead of being met ahead, were
on his starboard side. He could only guess their course. Beyond a few miles
everything was shrouded in mist; the little that could be seen was no more
than a blurred picture, and with every tick of the clock the situation was developing
with a rapidity of which his predecessors had never dreamt. At a speed higher
than anything in their experience the two hostile fleets were rushing upon each
other; battle cruisers, cruisers and destroyers were hurrying to their battle
stations, and the vessels steaming across his front were shutting out all beyond
in an impenetrable pall of funnel smoke. (In addition to the battle cruisers,
several light cruisers and destroyers, the Duke
of Edinburgh was pouring forth a dense volume of smoke while the burning Wiesbaden contributed to the general
Above all was the roar of battle both ahead
and to starboard, and in this blind distraction Admiral Jellicoe had to make
the decision on which the fortunes of his country hung.
His first and natural impulse was, he says,
to deploy on the starboard flank, which was nearest to the enemy. (Jellicoe, The Grand Fleet, 1914‑16, p. 348.)
But for this the decisive intelligence had come too late and he was too near.
Heavy shells were already failing between the lines of his divisions, and if he
deployed, as his natural impulse was, it would mean that Admiral Burney, whose
May 31, 1916
squadron was the oldest and least powerful
in the fleet, would receive the concentrated fire of the enemy's best ships'
and almost certainly a heavy destroyer attack while in the act of deployment.
To increase the disadvantage he would be compelled as he deployed to turn to
port in order to avoid having his "T" crossed, and this would mean
that the fleet would be turning at least twelve points in the thick of the
enemy's fire, and, what is still more important, the action would be opened
well within torpedo range of the enemy's battleships ‑ a hazard which in
Admiral Jellicoe's system it was vital to avoid.
It is scarcely to be doubted that his
reasoning was correct. We now know that such an opening with the visibility as
low as it was would have given his adversary exactly the opportunity he prayed
for. The tactics on which Admiral Scheer's whole conception of offensive action
with an inferior fleet was undoubtedly based were a rapid and overwhelming
concentration with gun and torpedo on part of his opponent's line,
followed by a withdrawal under cover of a smoke screen before a counter‑concentration
could be brought to bear ‑ a bold manceuvre which the High Seas Fleet had
persistently practised. A possible alternative for Admiral Jellicoe was
deployment on the flagship in the centre, but this was too complicated at such
a juncture. Nothing, then, remained but to form his line to port on Admiral
Jerram, and at 6.15 he signalled for him to lead the deployment S.E. by E.
continue the course S.E. would have led nearer to the enemy, but for this there
was no clear signal. Equal speed deployment could he signalled with a numeral
flag indicating the number of points away from the course the fleet was on, but
the signal had never been made with a zero flag. After a rapid consultation with
his staff, Admiral Jellicoe decided that an unfamiliar signal made at such a juncture
was too hazardous, and might well lead to confusion. He therefore did the next
best thing, by ordering a course S.E. by E. ‑ that is, one point away from
his S.E. course. Deployment south-westward on his starboard wing would have
involved the fleets passing each other on opposite courses and leave open to
the enemy a clear line of retreat to the northward. See Diagram 31 - repeated.)
Diagram 31 - The Deployment: From 6.15 to 6.26
The wisdom of the decision was quickly
apparent. Scarcely had Admiral Burney turned his division when it came under
fire from the van of the German fleet at about 14,000 yards ‑ a range
which was within the effective capacity of the long‑range torpedoes of
the enemy's capital ships. (The German ships had a much stronger torpedo
armament than our own. All of them had from four to six submerged tubes.
The best armed of ours had four, and half of them only two. On the other hand,
our gun armament was greatly superior, and for this reason Admiral Jellicoe
judged that to get the utmost advantage he must engage at not less than 15,000
yards, which was deemed to be the effective range of the enemy's torpedo.)
It was only as the smoke of the vessels
steaming across his front slowly drifted clear that the divisions turning ahead
of Admiral Burney could successively come to his assistance, but fortunately he
had other and more powerful support. When Admiral Evan‑Thomas first
sighted the Marlborough he believed
that the fleet had already deployed: it was too thick for any other division to
be seen, and he concluded that she was leading the line. By that time he had
turned to the eastward after Admiral Beatty, and like him was steering to cross
ahead of the enemy. He was again hotly engaged, and as he was on a course that
converged with that of Admiral Burney at a greatly superior speed he was
gradually drawing into his battle station ahead of the Marlborough. But the real state of the case quickly became plain.
As he drew ahead he could see that the fleet
was only just forming line, and that the deployment was consequently to the
eastward. In these circumstances his proper battle station was at the head
of the line with the battle cruisers. But to reach that position was now out of
the question. To follow Admiral Beatty across the front of the battle fleet
would make the interference worse than it already was, and he decided his only
course was to make a wide turn and lead on as best he could into his alternative
battle station astern. (By the Battle Orders, if the fleet deployed towards
Heligoland, as it was now doing, both he and Admiral Beatty were to take
station ahead. Otherwise he would be astern, with the battle cruisers ahead.)
In waters alive as they now were with
rapidly moving ships it was no easy task. With Admiral Beatty's light cruisers
and destroyers as well as the flotillas of the battle fleet making for their
own battle stations in all directions, the manoeuvre called for nerve and
dexterity of a high order. To add to the hazard the Warspite's steering gear began to give way under the wounds she
had received. As she put her helm over it jammed, and this was why she swerved
out of the line just in time to save the Warrior,
and how as she circled round the crippled cruiser the two ships became the
focus of the enemy's fire. The Onslow,
limping away, saw the Warspite apparently stopped in a forest of water spouts, doomed as it seemed to
destruction, but replying to the enemy's fire with all her guns ‑ an
inspiring sight for the lonely destroyer. (The
Fighting at Jutland, p. 258.) With his
other three ships Admiral Evan‑Thomas led on, and dropping neatly into
his station, re‑opened a fire, the accuracy and the effect of which were
the admiration of friend and foe. (See Diagram 32.)
Diagram 32 - The Main Action. From 6.26 to 6.35
At the other end of the line there was an
May 31, 1916
stroke of seamanship. Shortly after 6.0
p.m., while Admiral Hood was still engaging the enemy's light cruisers, he
heard firing to the westward and turned towards it. Not a ship was to he seen,
but the distant thud of guns soon increased to a continuous roll of thunder, and
the horizon was lit by whirling sheets of flame. Then out of the lurid
obscurity appeared the Lion and her
sisters in hot fight, and he held on to meet them with the fine intention of
turning up ahead of their van. It was no easy feat. For at this juncture the
torpedo attack which Admiral Hipper had launched to cover his retirement
developed. As our battle cruisers turned to avoid it the line was thrown into
confusion. But no harm was done. The torpedoes passed harmlessly, the line quickly
re‑formed and in the most brilliant manner Admiral Hood swung his
squadron into station ahead of the Lion.
(The Invincible and Indomitable turned away to starboard,
the Inflexible which was rear ship,
It was all high testimony to what training
and seamanship could achieve. Such maze of crossing ships were the waters at
both ends of the line in which the deployment took place that officers held
their breath, collisions seemed inevitable, but all went well, and in that
fateful hour was reaped the harvest which in the long years of preparation had
been laboriously sown by Admiral Jellicoe and his predecessors, Sir Arthur
Wilson, Sir Francis Bridgeman, Sir William May and Sir George Callaghan.
Thus did Admiral Jellicoe attain the
tactical position which, on his unrivalled experience of manoeuvres and
exercises under those masters, he had regarded as the most desirable. "Action
on approximately similar courses," he wrote in his Battle Orders, "will
be one of the underlying objects of my tactics, because it is the form of
action likely to give the most decisive results." He was in single line
with a fast division ahead and astern and every prospect of engaging the enemy
on similar courses. For as soon as the Gerinans realised that large forces were
in front of them the Koenig had led
to the eastward on a course which they probably took to be parallel to
that of the enemy (6.27).
It was in fact parallel to the course
Admiral Beatty was steering to get ahead of the battle fleet, and the haze and
smoke must have effectually prevented Admiral Scheer from seeing that our
deployment was being made on a course that sharply converged with his own.
Possibly also the movement was made to cover Admiral Hipper, who, five minutes
earlier, under the fire of our battle cruisers, had turned to the southward on
a nearly parallel course with
Admiral Hood, and was again suffering
severely, the Luetzow herself being
hardly under control.
While Admiral Scheer was thus apparently trying
to meet a situation which he had not yet fathomed, to Admiral Jellicoe it
gradually became plain. He had just settled down on the deployment course, but
as Admiral Beatty was heading to cross he had to reduce speed to 14 knots
to allow the battle cruisers to clear. Now, however, their smoke so far drifted
away that he could get occasional glimpses of the German ships as the sun
declined in the north‑west and now and then lit one or more of them up.
He could see they were turning to the eastward, with our battle cruisers hotly
engaging their van. Obviously it was the moment to deliver the crushing
blow for which his whole tactical scheme was devised, and eager to seize the
occasion he signalled for the fleet to turn to south‑south‑east by
sub‑divisions in order to close, But a moment's reflection convinced him
he must forgo the move.
The necessity for reducing speed to let
Admiral Beatty get clear had checked an otherwise perfect deployment; ships
astern of him became bunched, and his two rear squadrons had not yet
reached the turning point. There was thus an awkward angle in the line, and in
such a position the movement would have rendered it practically impossible to
complete the deployment. There was, moreover, a further difficulty. Though
Admiral Beatty, by increasing to twenty-six knots, had cleared the rear of
the line, he was still masking the van and rapidly converging on the
battleships, while Admiral Jerram was inclining to port away from the enemy in
order to obtain more sea room. There was nothing, therefore, for Admiral
Jellicoe to do but cancel the signal and hold on as he was, nor was it till
6.33 that the battle cruisers were well enough ahead to allow him to increase
again to his battle speed of seventeen knots.
Thus the enforced passage of Admiral Beatty
across the battle front, due to the sudden appearance at the moment of contact
of the enemy battle fleet on an unexpected bearing, which necessitated
deployment on the port wing, spoiled a promising opening to the action. The
first duty of our battle cruisers, as laid down in the Grand Fleet Battle
Orders, was to destroy the enemy battle cruisers. It was incumbent upon them
also at the commencement of an action to take up their battle station at the
head of our line in order to frustrate any attempt on the part of the enemy
battle cruisers to attack the van of our battle fleet with torpedoes at long
range. In the circumstances Admiral Beatty's movement was inevitable.
It was not indeed till this time (about
6.30) that the
May 31, 1916
flagship in the centre got into action with
the enemy's battle fleet. As the Koenig led
round to the eastward the Iron Duke and the ships astern fired at her and any enemy vessels they could see, but now
it was only here and there between the slowly drifting patches of smoke‑laden
haze that they could occasionally get a target.
At 6.32 Admiral Beatty reached his station
ahead of the battle fleet. Ahead of him again was Admiral Hood with his three
battle cruisers, leading the fleet, and leading it in a manner worthy of the
honoured name he bore. Upon him was concentrated the fire of three or four of
Admiral Hipper's five ships. (The Luetzow had apparently fallen out of the line, and possibly another was keeping her
company. Admiral Napier, who was close by with part of the 3rd Light Cruiser Squadron,
reports coming across two detached battle cruisers steering east. They engaged
him with their secondary armament, and both his ships fired torpedoes at the
Under pressure of the oncoming British
Dreadnoughts they had turned again to the southward. For the past ten minutes
the action between them and the "Invincibles" had been growing hot
upon similar courses, and Admiral Hood with Capt A. L. Cay, his flag‑captain,
at his side was directing it from the bridge. Having the advantage of the light
he was giving more than he received. The range was down below 9,000 yards, but
it was the greatest that visibility would permit, and he was doing too well to
alter. "Several shells," says Commander von Hase of the Derfflinger, "pierced our ship with
a terrific force and exploded with a tremendous roar which shook every seam and
rivet. The captain had again frequently to steer the ship out of the line to
get clear of the hail of fire."
So heavy was the punishment he was
inflicting that Admiral Hood hailed Commander Dannreuther, his gunnery
officer, in the control top, and called to him, "Your firing is very good.
Keep at it as quickly as you can. Every shot is telling." They were the
last words he is known to have spoken. Just then the mist was riven and from
the Derfflinger her tormentor
was suddenly silhouetted against a light patch of sky. Then as another salvo
from the Invincible straddled her she
began rapid salvoes in reply, in which probably the Koenig joined with as many. One after another they went home on the Invincible. Flames shot up from the
gallant flagship, and there came again the awful spectacle of a fiery burst,
followed by a huge column of dark smoke which, mottled with blackened debris,
swelled up hundreds of feet in the air, and the mother of all battle cruisers
had gone to join the other two that were no more. As her two consorts
LOSS OF THE INVINCIBLE
swerved round her seething death‑bed
they could see she was rent in two; her stem and stern rose apart high out of
the troubled waters as though she had touched the bottom, and near by a group
of half a dozen men were clinging to a life raft, cheering the ships as they
raced by to continue the fight. (The survivors were Commander H. E.
Dannreuther, Lieutenant C. S. Sandford, C.P.O. Thompson and three other
ratings, most of whom had been in the control top. They were picked up by the Badger, of the 1st Flotilla.) So in the
highest exultation of battle ‑ doing all a man could do for victory ‑
the intrepid Admiral met his end, gilding in his death with new lustre the
immortal name of Hood.
JUTLAND ‑ THE THIRD PHASE
6.30 to NIGHTFALL
THE explosion in which the Invincible perished heralded a new phase
of the action. A period of manoeuvring ensued comparable with, that when from
May 28 to June 1 Lord Howe strove to bring Villaret-Joyeuse to action a hundred
and twenty‑two years before. But now a tactical contest of days was
condensed into hours. Admiral Scheer had come suddenly upon his enemy in the
act of deployment, but instead of being able to throw him into confusion by a
concentrated attack on part of his line, he found his own van being enveloped
by a superior force ready for action. Persuaded as he was by the reports of his
submarines that the Grand Fleet had been split up, he did not as yet realise
that he was face to face with the whole of it. But he could divine enough. Out of
the mist which shrouded his enemy, fire was coming from about eight points of
the compass. Fortunately for him, the smoke‑laden air was saving him from
the full weight of it.
The British battle fleet had almost
completed its deployment, and although it also was baffled by patches of mist
and hanging smoke that appeared and dissolved at intervals so that only a few
of the enemy could be seen at a time, nearly all ships were firing and getting
hits, while they themselves suffered not at all. The head of the German line
was already being smashed in. The Luetzow was completely disabled, and Admiral Hipper was about to board a destroyer
in order to shift his flag. The Derfflinger,
with her masts and rigging cut to shreds and water pouring through a large hole
in her bows as she rose and fell to the swell, was little better off. The head
of the German battle line was being forced to the eastward, and one of the
"Koenigs " was seen to be blazing fore and aft.(Several of our
vessels reported this ship as having sunk shortly afterwards (Jutland
Despatches (Cmd. 1068), p. 18). What they mistook for a sinking ship was probably
the disabled Luetzow.)
So boldly had Captain E. H. F. Heaton‑Ellis
in the Inflexible led on past the
THE MAIN ACTION
of the lost flagship, that the rest of the
German battle cruisers, thinking it must be the van of our battle fleet, swerved
away to the westward (6.35). (See Diagram 32 - repeated.)
Diagram 32 - The Main Action. From 6.26 to 6.35
Admiral Scheer thus found himself in an
awkward predicament. Completely out‑manoeuvred, he had no choice but
to get his neck out of the noose. But this was no easy matter. To retire in
succession was not to be thought of, for the turning point would be a deathtrap
as the long line of the enemy's fleet encircled it, while, on the other hand,
his own fleet was in nearly the worst possible position for a turn away
together. His rear had not yet reached the eastward turning point, and was
still steering north‑east; his van battle division was going south‑east,
so that as the battle cruisers had turned to the westward he had three kinks in
his line. Yet a turn together was his only chance. Even though the extended
order in which his ships were steaming allowed them ample room to manoeuvre, to
attempt such a thing with the fleet as it was and under fire was attended with
no small risk, but the exigency had been foreseen and a special measure provided
to meet it. (Admiral Scheer's plans show his ships to have been at this time
between four and five cables apart. In the Grand Fleet, ships in column were
two and a half cables apart.)
In the German tactical manuals it was termed
the Gefechtskehrtwendung (battle turn
away), a simultaneous withdrawal analogous to that attributed to the French at
the end of the sailing period which had baffled our greatest tacticians to
counter. So vital was it for an inferior fleet to be able to disengage at any
moment that it had been sedulously practised by the Germans in all conditions
of the line. This was well known to us, and in the exercises we had practised
since the war began, an effective reply to the manoeuvre had constantly been
sought, but none had been found.
The only possible means of preventing the
enemy's escape was a resolute and immediate chase, but to baffle pursuit the Kehrtwendung was to be made under cover
of a destroyer attack and a smoke screen which would at once conceal the direction
of the retreat and check the pursuit. A century earlier, in the days of close
action, slow speed, and towering masts, such devices for concealing tactical movements
would have been of little avail, but under modern conditions in the misty North
Sea, with fleets engaging at high speed on the limits of visibility, they had
every chance of success.
Yet it was not without misgiving that
May 31, 1916
decided to perform the manoeuvre. It had
never been attempted under fire, several of his ships were crippled, the
fleets were very close, and should the enemy, with his superior speed,
penetrate his intention and turn to follow, his situation would be perilous in
the extreme. But, like the resolute commander he proved himself to be, he did
not hesitate, and at 6.33, just after the Invincible blew up, he made the manoeuvring signal, at the same time launching his
destroyers to deliver their covering attack and to set up the protecting smoke
screen. (The signal read: Turn together sixteen points to starboard and form
single line ahead in the opposite direction.) The effect was all he could
desire. In two or three minutes his fleet, already only visible from the
British ships by glimpses, had disappeared, and all firing ceased. (See Diagram
Diagram 33 - From 6.35 to 6.45
It soon appeared to Admiral Jellicoe that
the enemy must have turned away, though whether they had turned right back to
the south‑westward, directly away from him, or to a course for
Heligoland, he was unable to discover. What was he to do? An immediate turn by
divisions, in order to follow, was out of the question. It would have placed
his fleet in a position directly open to a possibly overwhelming attack from
the long‑range torpedoes in the enemy's capital ships; and this, it must
be remembered, was a danger, at that time new and unmeasured, to which no
capable tactician could venture to expose his fleet, above all in the opening
stages of an action. Nor did the viciousness of the expedient end here. For it
would have brought the German destroyers directly ahead of the advancing
British fleet, in the best possible position for launching every available
A turn in succession was equally
undesirable, for though fewer ships would have been laid open to torpedo
attack, the fleet must have been led straight into the waters now occupied by
the enemy. Such a hazard could not be accepted. The German capital ships were
all believed to carry mines, and might reasonably be expected to lay them as
they retired. Nor would such a turn have enabled the British fleet to re‑engage
immediately, for some minutes had elapsed since the enemy had turned and the
range was opening rapidly.
Another alternative was to turn right round
to the westward and so maintain his position to the northward, but this
would only have brought the enemy upon a bow bearing instead of ahead, and the
torpedo menace would not have been appreciably reduced. The only way in which
this difficulty could have been even partially met was to divide the
fleet and undoubtedly in clear weather and
with plenty of daylight something might possibly have been done in this way to
foil the enemy's evasive tactics. But in the prevailing atmospheric conditions,
and so late in the day, co‑ordination between independent squadrons would
have been impossible, and the well‑known risk which for two centuries had
forced all navies to cling to the single line of battle in spite of all its
drawbacks ‑ the risk of independent squadrons being overwhelmed
individually by a concentrated enemy ‑ would have been very great in the
prevailing conditions and in the face of so able a tactician as Admiral Scheer.
The alternative to forcing the enemy to
engage by the independent action of squadrons was to follow him up closelyy
with the whole fleet. With a sufficient superiority of speed it has always been
regarded as the most effective method, but the introduction of minelayers and
submarines had restricted its merit, and as early as October, 1914,
Admiral Jellicoe, in a memorandum he submitted to the Admiralty, had explained
the modification of the time‑honoured tactics which the new developments
In certain conditions, which were those in
which he considered it most likely the German fleet would be met, he did not
intend "to comply with enemy tactics by moving in the invited
direction." "If, for instance," he wrote, "the enemy were
to turn away from an advancing fleet, I should assume the intention was to lead
us over mines and submarines, and should decline to be so drawn." In reply
he received from the new Board, which Lord Fisher had just joined as First Sea
Lord, an assurance "of their full confidence in your contemplated conduct
of the fleet in action." (Jutland
Despatches, p. 601.) After six months' experience of the war his views were
unshaken, and on April 5, 1915, he had again submitted his intentions to the
Board for approval, and again no exception was taken to them.
But, as it happened, the principles laid
down in these memoranda did little or nothing to affect his tactics. The
situation on his first contact.with the High Seas Fleet differed from that
which the memoranda contemplated. True he had every reason to believe that
submarines were present. He knew many were in the North Sea, and ship after
ship reported sighting one. The situation he had visualised in the memoranda
was one in which the enemy would be seeking an action in the open sea
deliberately. Now he kniew he had surprised them and that there was little risk
of their having time to prepare a minefield or even a submarine trap. The dominating
consideration of the movement he made was therefore quite different from that
which his memoranda emphasised,
May 31, 1916
and his "contemplated conduct of the
fleet in action" in no way affected what followed.
In the constant search before the battle for
an effective counter to the manceuvre which he had so surely foreseen, and with
which he was now faced, he had come to the conclusion that "nothing
but ample time and superior speed can be an answer, and this means that unless
the meeting of the fleets takes place fairly early in the day, it is most
difficult, if not impossible, to fight the action to a finish." But the
day was already far advanced, and in the face of Admiral Scheer's evasive
tactics and of the low visibility it is difficult to see, even now, how the
action, so well begun, could have been pushed to a decision.
Nothing then remained for Admiral Jellicoe,
since he could not tell in what direction the enemy had retired, but to place
himself as soon as possible athwart their line of retreat to the Bight, for
along that line, sooner or later, they were almost certain to be discovered.
His ships were so disposed as to be able instantly to form line of battle on a
course parallel to that line, and in order to maintain them in this disposition,
Admiral Jellicoe now turned by divisions to south‑east (6.44) as the best
means of attaining the required position, so far as he could divine the
situation. (See Diagram 34.)
Diagram 34 - From 6.45 to 6.56
It was still obscure, and from the battle
cruisers, who being three miles on the starboard bow of the battle fleet, had
been in a better position to gauge what had happened than himself, he obtained
little help to penetrate it. They also had ceased firing, a sure indication
that the enemy were not yet heading for their base ‑ the more so since he
could see that Admiral Beatty was hauling round gradually to starboard.
Accordingly, having no news of the enemy from the van, as soon as his turn was
complete (6.50) he signalled to Admiral Burney, who was furthest to the
westward, "Can you see any enemy battleships? " The reply was,
"No!" For Admiral Jellicoe this was enough. Convinced that he had now
made enough to the eastward to bring him between the enemy and their base, he
ordered the guides of his divisions to lead four more points to starboard,
and signalled to, the battle cruiser squadrons that the course of the fleet was
now south (6.54).
This course had already been anticipated by
Captain Kennedy, who was now senior officer of what was left of Admiral Hood's
squadron, and for the past five minutes the Inflexible,
which was still leading, had been steering south. Some minutes elapsed before
Admiral Beatty received this
course from the Commander‑in‑Chief
(Admiral Beatty in his despatch of June 12 states that he did not receive the
signal till 7.6), but, having followed the Inflexible's
lead, he too was steering south.
Nothing was in sight, and to maintain his
station on the battle fleet he now (6.55) reduced speed to eighteen knots. At
the same time, ordering the Inflexible and Indomitable to take station
astern of him, he began to circle to starboard, but owing to a failure of the
gyro compass the turn was carried much farther than he intended before the
defect was noticed. The consequence was that a complete circle had to he made,
so that by 7.1 he was once again where he had been when the turn started. (See
Diagram 35 - From 6.56 to 7.12
The effect of the mishap was to delay his
progress to the southward by about seven minutes, and when he received the Commander‑in‑Chief's
signal to steer south, he was already heading to the south‑westward to
regain touch with the enemy with the Inflexible and Indomitable in station in rear of
The German smoke screen had, in fact, been
entirely successful, but the half‑hearted destroyer attack had failed. A
few torpedoes crossed our lines, and to avoid them some divisions had to turn
away, but they had little or no effect on Admiral Jellicoe's closing movement.
Just as it was complete, however. Admiral Burney signalled that his
flagship, the Marlborough, had been
hit by a torpedo. Where it came from is difficult to say, but so far as can be
seen it was most probably fired by the Wiesbaden,
which was still afloat. The blow was severe, but not fatal; the Marlborough was not even put out of
action. As for the ill‑fated Wiesbaden,
her gallant struggle was near its inevitable end. Being the only enemy ship now
visible, she came under a heavier fire than ever, and some ten minutes later
the flames with which she had been struggling were quenched beneath the sea.
Meanwhile, Admiral Scheer, with his line
disordered by the Kehrtwendung manoeuvre,
had turned to the westward. His four Dreadnought divisions in reverse order
were disposed quarterly, that is, in echelon, with the rear division leading;
south of them the two pre‑Dreadnought divisions, similarly disposed, were
trying to get into station ahead, while Admiral Hipper's battered battle
cruisers were coming up on his port quarter. The leading ships had been badly
damaged, but at this cost Admiral Scheer cleverly extricated his fleet from the
trap in which his adversary had so nearly caught him, and could hope to steal
away in night cruising order with considerable success to
May 31, 1916
his credit. But for escape in this way it
was still too early. There was more than an hour to sunset, and in the long twilight
of those latitudes it was too dangerous to attempt. (Sunset was at 8.7.)
Crippled as many of his ships were, they
might well be overtaken, and long before dark the enemy would be able, if
he came south ‑ which Admiral Jellicoe was actually doing ‑ to
force him to action again with every advantage. The result could only be a
severe reverse, and since his enemy would be in a position to cut him off from
the Bight, it might well mean annihilation. "There was," he says,
"only one way of avoiding this." (Jutland
Despatches, p. 594.)
It was to advance again regardless of
consequences and launch all his destroyers against our line. The manoeuvre, he
calculated, could not fail after his last move to come as a surprise that would
upset his enemy's plans for the rest of the day, and if the attack was only
pushed home with enough violence on some part of their line he could hope to
escape for the night. It was a desperate expedient, but emboldened by the skill
with which his captains had carried out the last Kehrtwendung under fire, he determined to stake his fate upon it.
His idea, so he says, was to strike at the enemy's centre under cover of a
destroyer attack while the battle cruisers held our van, and shortly before 7.0
he signalled the fleet to turn back together 16 points to starboard ‑
i.e., back to the eastward.
analogy between the explanation which Admiral Scheer gives of his conduct at
this time and the Trafalgar Memorandum is so close that the inspiration is
evident. We have a fast advance squadron, a main body of Dreadnoughts with a
reserve of pre‑Dreadnoughts, as well as the two attacks on centre and
van. Compare also Admiral Scheer's comment (High
Seas Fleet, p. 155): " The manoeuvre would be bound to surprise the
enemy and upset his plans for the rest of the day," with Nelson's remark
to Keats (Despatches vii, 241 note):
" I think it will surprise and confound the enemy. They won't know what I
am about." But Nelson added: "It will bring forward a pell‑mell
battle, and that is what 1 want," while Admiral Scheer concludes: "If
the blow fell heavily it would facilitate breaking loose at night."
Further falsity in the analogy is that Nelson, fighting close with short‑range
guns, had no fear of mutual interference of squadrons. Moreover, under
modern conditions of high freedom of movement and long‑range guns, any
part of the attacked fleet could at once succour another. Under sail it could
not do so, and it was on this that Nelson mainly relied for success against a
superior enemy. It would almost seem, indeed, that Admiral Scheer fell into the
not uncommon error of endeavouring to apply a historical precedent without
sufficiently considering the extent to which development of material reduced
its applicability to the conditions of his own time. It may at least be taken
as a reminder that the value of history in the art of war is not only to
elucidate the resemblance of past and present, but also their essential differences.)
Such is the explanation of his intentions
which Admiral Scheer chose to give to the world. It may well be that he
justly gauged the appetite and the ignorance
of the German public in naval matters, but it cannot be reconciled with his
high reputation as a tactician, or even with sanity. In the relative
dispositions of the two fleets as he judged them to be, to thrust at the
enemy's centre in line ahead was deliberately to expose himself to having
his "T" crossed by a superior fleet, and we may well believe, as is
told, that subsequently his Chief‑of‑Staff remarked that had
he attempted such a stroke in manoeuvres he would have been promptly ordered to
haul down his flag. Fortunately the ascertained facts of this phase of the
action indicate clearly enough that his intentions were very different and much
From his own diagrams we know that when he turned
away sixteen points at 6.35 he believed the British fleet was disposed on an
are extending from east by south of him to north‑east by north about
seven miles distant, and that it was steering south‑eastward. Assuming a
normal battle speed of 18 knots, this would mean that at 7.0, when he had
turned back eastward for his alleged attempt at the centre, his enemy would be
some fifteen miles away on an arc bearing from him between south‑east and
east. The diagrams further show that at this time he thought he could see
"individual heavy enemy ships " (which he took to be Queen Elizabeths
") bearing north‑east seven miles, and just turning to the eastward,
and on these his van opened fire as it came on the easterly course. (What he
saw was probably the isolated Warspite,
and Commodore Goodenough's squadron, which had seen the turn to the eastward.)
Possibly the sight of them may have
suggested that the enemy's fleet had been divided in order to force him to
action. If so the counter movement was obvious. A course to the east would cut
off the detached ships and at the same time give a fair chance of crossing
astern of the main body. Further, the course would carry him past the Wiesbaden, whose crew he was bent on
rescuing, and once clear to the eastward he would have his enemy at gunnery
advantage against the western horizon. From such a position, moreover, each
time he launched his destroyers to attack he would be driving the enemy further
off the line of retreat to Horn Reefs. Such a device then for extricating his
fleet from the trap in which he found himself was much more to be expected from
his ability than the incredible folly of which it was his humour to accuse
himself. It is scarcely to be doubted therefore that he was already seeking
"to break loose," as he says. That he hoped to surprise his enemy is
equally credible, but Admiral Jellicoe
May 31, 1916
had penetrated the situation acutely enough
to be ready for him, and again it was Admiral Scheer who was surprised.
At 6.55 Admiral Jellicoe had turned south,
and when he had been on this course for five minutes a message came in from the Lion saying " Enemy are to
westward." (See Diagram 35 - repeated.)
Diagram 35 - From 6.56 to 7.12
The information only went to confirm
him that he was in the position he desired, and at 7.5 he turned three points
to starboard in order to close. He knew almost immediately that Admiral Scheer's movement had been accurately detected. As usual, Commodore Goodenough
with the 2nd Light Cruiser Squadron was where he was most wanted. Having clung
to the enemy as long as possible during the running fight north, he had not
followed Admiral Beatty across the front of the battle fleet, but when in the
deployment the 5th Battle Squadron formed up in rear of the line, he had taken
his proper battle station on its starboard quarter. There he remained during
the first of the fighting, but when the enemy disappeared he ran down to the
southward to try to regain touch.
Thus when the Koenig led back to the eastward he was only 12,000 yards away, and
immediately came under fire. But, as before, he stoutly held his ground till at
7.4 he was able to report that the enemy had turned back. (Southampton to S.O., R.C.F. Urgent. Priority. Enemy battle fleet
steering E.S.E. Enemy bears from me S.S.W. Number unknown. My position lat. 57¼
02' N., 6¼ 07 E.) Then he withdrew again to his station ‑ with another bold
and well‑judged piece of cruiser work added to his already fine record.
The information made clear to the Commander‑in‑Chief
beyond all doubt that what he had already prepared for was coming. A few
minutes after he had made the turn together to close the enemy, the ships immediately
ahead of him reported a submarine a little on the port bow. Unaware that it was
but one of the many false alarms that day, he immediately turned upon it.
The turn, which was to the south again, had the additional advantage of
bringing back his columns into line ahead, ready for any required manoeuvre,
and it was high time; for now he could see a number of destroyers, apparently
supported by a light cruiser, approaching on his starboard bow. Astern of
him Admiral Sturdee saw them too, and at 7.8 signalled to the Commanderin‑Chief
"Enemy destroyers south‑west." A minute or two later, when the
southerly turn was complete, Admiral Burney was seen to be re‑opening
fire. Out of the mist to the westward the van of the enemy's fleet was
just coming into sight,
THE MAIN ACTION
and it was on them he was firing. Six
minutes earlier he had fired his last salvo at the Wiesbaden, and now he could see what he took to be the Koenig and some of her sisters on his
starboard bow, and at 7.12 his division had everything in action ‑ primary
armament on the ships and secondary on the 3rd Flotilla which was now
The Marlborough opened a devastating fire on the leading ship. Fourteen salvoes were fired in
six minutes, and of these at least four gave distinct hits. In the sixth salvo
a large cloud of grey and white smoke sprang up near the enemy's foremast,
while in the twelfth two hits could be clearly seen under the bridge and rather
low. (See Diagram 36).
Diagram 36 - From 7.12 to 7.18
Admiral Burney's second ship, took the enemy for "Kaiser" class
battleships. She too opened fire on the leading ship, but seeing that her
target was already under a heavy fire, she shifted on to the fourth ship and
fired rapid salvoes. Sixteen in all were fired, and several hits were observed.
The third ship of the division, the Hercules, seeing three battle cruisers
to the left of these battleships, opened fire upon the second of them, and
scored hits with her fifth and sixth salvoes, while the Revenge, her next ahead, reports firing a torpedo, which was seen
to run true, at the rear battle cruiser, the Von der Tann. Following the Hercules was the Agincourt, the rear ship, and
she too saw four enemy battleships, which she rightly judged to be their 5th
Division, appearing out of the mist. She opened fire at 11,000 yards, obtained
four straddles and observed effective hits.
Meanwhile our 5th Division, led by Admiral
Gaunt in the Colossus, had also come
into action. The division was well ahead of the Marlborough, so it was the enemy battle cruisers that became the
target as they appeared out of the mist upon the starboard eam. They were very
close, and at ranges between 9,000 and 8,000 yards all four ships poured in an
overwhelming fire, to which the German ships were unable to make any effective
reply. The Colossus alone was hit by
two shells, which only inflicted minor damage.
Admiral Jellicoe could see his rear
divisions in hot action, though in the smother of the fight the ships could not
be made out with certainty. But whatever the enemy was that was coming into
action, it was evident to the Commander-in‑Chief that his rear was
dangerously threatened, and he signalled (7.12) to Admiral Burney to form into
line astern of the 4th Division. At the same time Admiral Sturdee, who, according
to the established rule, had inclined two
May 31. 1916
points away from the destroyers, conformed
to his intention by turning up astern of him. As the enemy came on and the
position became clear, Admiral Jellicoe saw that by completing his line of
battle he could cross his adversary's " T," and at 7.16 he ordered
Admiral Jerram to take station ahead. So, at last, the battle fleet had its
turn, and in a few minutes nearly the whole of it was engaged at ranges between
9,000 and 12,000 yards in an overwhelming attack on the enemy's battle cruisers
and the van of their battle fleet. At 7.13 the Iron Duke opened fire on the Koenig,
followed by the rest of the centre squadron at ranges varying from 11,000 to
over 14,000 yards, according as battle cruisers or battleships gave them a
target through the smoke of the enemy's guns and burning ships. Admiral Jerram's
squadron also came into action with the enemy battleships a minute or two
later, but at longer ranges.
Thus it was that when Admiral Scheer on his
easterly course came in sight of the Grand Fleet he found his opponent had
surprised him in the worst possible position. Instead of gaining a clear path
to eastward, he was rushing to destruction into the arms of a much superior
force disposed on a quadrant athwart his course. So much he could see, but
little more. For the Grand Fleet was to him nothing but a long vista of
formidable shapes half seen in the increasing gloom of the eastern horizon,
while groups of his own ships from time to time were defined between the
shifting veils of mist against the glow of the western horizon.
For the second time he found himself
enveloped in a flaming arc of gun‑flashes, and now they were so near that
his predicament was more critical than ever. The surprise had been complete,
and realising at once that his plan for extricating his fleet had been baffled,
he saw his only chance of escape was to risk another Kehrtwendung, and he immediately (about 7.12) launched his
destroyers to attack and raise a smoke screen in order to cover the precarious
manoeuvre. This time the conditions rendered it even more dangerous than
before. (See Diagram 37.)
Diagram 37 - From 7.18 to 7.27
The enemy was closer and his line was as
badly bent. The van had already turned on a similar course to the enemy to
bring their guns to bear, and they were under a heavy and accurate fire, which
threatened every moment to grow more violent and destructive as the range
decreased. The British fire was rapidly extending from rear to van, and for the
German battle cruisers the situation was specially desperate, but, unequal as
was the contest, they had to stand the punishment. For no sooner had Admiral
Scheer sent out his destroyers than he saw the
THE MAIN ACTION
cover they could afford was not enough, and
that something more must be done and done quickly if the Kehrtwendung was not to end in disaster. There was nothing for it
but the battle cruisers. If need was they must be sacrificed to save the battle
fleet, and in desperation he had ordered them to press home a forlorn attack on
the enemy's van. (Admiral Scheer's confused narrative (High Seas Fleet, pp. 156‑7) leaves the order of events
uncertain at this point, but Commander von Hase (Kiel and Jutland, p. 196) clearly states that the signal for the
battle cruisers to "push home their attack was made at the same time as that
for the Kehrtwendung ‑ that is,
about 7.12. According to Admiral Scheer's diagrams (Jutland Despatches) the latter signal was hauled down five minutes
For such an exigency the Germans had a
signal corresponding to our old ones for attacking the van, centre or
rear, and for close action. But their love of heroic gesture was not content
with such simplicity. They called it "Ran
an den feind," literally "charge the enemy" - a headlong
rush on the objective indicated regardless of consequences ‑ and the
signification of the signal was " Press for a decision with every means at
your disposal. Charge. Ram." (Cf., Hase (Kiel and Jutland, p. 125), who says that the signal entered in the
log was " Charge the enemy. Ram. Ships denoted are to attack without
regard to consequences.")
The battle cruisers were still under the
command of Captain Hartog of the Derfflinger,
for Admiral Hipper had not yet been able to transfer his flag; the Luetzow was out of action and still
burning, and Captain Hartog had only just succeeded in forming the four that
were left into line. All were badly damaged, but Captain Hartog, without
flinching, led off on his "death ride" against the British van.
To call it a "death ride," as they
did, was no exaggeration, even had they been less crippled than they were.
Admiral Gaunt's division was still upon them, and most of the divisions of
the battle fleet to port of him, though all were now engaged in repelling the
destroyer attacks, were also firing at the devoted German battle cruisers as
they came from time to time into view against the western glow, while away
before their port beam Admiral Beatty had found them again.
At 7.10, when the battle fleet came into
action, he was about eight miles to the south‑eastward of Admiral Burney
and three miles sharp on the port bow of Admiral Jerram. Ten minutes earlier,
having turned to the same course as the battle fleet and steaming at eighteen
knots to keep his station on the port wing, he began to haul to starboard to
try to regain touch with the enemy, till he was going south‑west by south.
On this course at 7.15, being then from two to three miles further to the
eastward than the battleship division
May 31, 1916
which was nearest to the enemy, he suddenly
made out some of the German ships west‑north‑west of him. They were
over 18,000 yards away, but as the sun had now sunk behind the clouds the
visibility in that direction had improved so much that in a couple of minutes
he could open fire, and at the same time he increased speed to head off what he
took to he the van of the enemy's line. (The Lion's first salvo was at 17,500 yards and the range was corrected "up" to 18,300. The Princess Royal gives the range an 18,000 and the Tiger as 19,800 at 7.16.)
The peril of the Germans was thus sensibly
increased, nor could they make any effective reply. A rippling ring of gunflashes
was all they could see as salvo after salvo from the battle fleet crashed into
them out of the thundering void. In a couple of minutes the Derfflinger had two turrets blown to
pieces, her decks were a shambles, she was ablaze fore and aft and all her fire
control gear out of action. She was blinded by the smoke from the burning Luetzow and the agony of the rest can
scarcely have been less. It seemed only a question of minutes for the end to
come when a signal from their Commander‑in‑Chief gave them relief.
The German turn away was to starboard, but
the Admiral himself turned to port. Possibly there was some confusion. "My
intention," Admiral Scheer explains, "was to get through and to save
the ships ahead of the Friedrich der
Grosse from a difficult situation in carrying out the manoeuvre"
(meaning presumably to give them more room to turn). He admits that his evolution
might have led the ship astern to think there had been a mistake in signalling,
but Admiral Schmidt, he says, who was leading the 1st Squadron in the Ostfriesland, understood, and without
waiting for the ships astern of him to turn first, as was the rule for
minimising the risk of collision, immediately turned his ship to starboard and
thus forced his ships round. "This action," comments Admiral Scheer, "gave satisfactory evidence of the capable handling of ships and the leaders'
intelligent grasp of the situation," but it certainly also indicates that
the Kehrtwendung was carried out with
some precipitancy. (Scheer, High Seas
Fleet, pp. 157-8)
Thanks to the risk taken, the battleships
were all fairly round by 7.20. Then Admiral Scheer signalled to his forlorn
hope to break off their rush and simply "manoeuvre off the enemy's
van," and at the same time he sent out the destroyers' recall. Fitfully
the firing died away; like a Homeric mist the smother of haze and smoke
thickened impenetrably between the combatants, and Admiral Scheer, for the time
at least, had saved his fleet; but
THE MAIN ACTION
no more. His surprise tactics had not had
the effect he expected, they had not upset his enemy's plans for the rest of
the day, nor had his attack "fallen heavily enough," as he says he
hoped, to facilitate his "breaking loose at night." (Scheer, High Seas Fleet, p. 155.)
So effective, however, was the smoke screen
which the destroyers set up that, combined with the mist and the failing
light, it sufficed for some time to prevent Admiral Jellicoe from having any
idea of what the enemy was about. All he knew was that as Admiral Scheer
disappeared he had made a series of attacks with his numerous destroyers. (He
had in all six and a half flotillas. Attached to the battle fleet were the 3rd,
5th, 7th and the 1st half flotilla; with the battle cruisers were the 2nd, 6th
and 9th. A third of them were not available for the covering attack. The
7th Flotilla was astern of the battle fleet; the 1st half flotilla and most of
the 12th and 18th half flotillaa were away guarding the disabled Luetzow. Each flotilla consisted of
eleven boats and was organised in two half flotillas numbered consecutively,
the first and second forming the 1st Flotilla, the third and fourth forming the
2nd Flotilla, etc.)
They opened with the 11th half flotilla, but
so hot was their reception that they fired their torpedoes as soon as they were
within extreme range. Eleven were fired, but none took effect. For Admiral
Jellicoe performed the manceuvre which long and well‑ascertained
experiment had proved to be the only way of avoiding such an attack. Admiral
Jerram, who had not yet been able to get into station ahead, was ordered to
turn his ships away four points together, and to the rest of the fleet he made
the "Preparative," which meant they were to turn away two points by
sub‑divisions (7.21). Then after an interval judged by the time it would
take for the torpedoes to reach the line the turn was made, but almost
immediately Commander R. M. Bellairs, who had charge of the special instrument
designed for the purpose, informed the Admiral that the turn already made was
not enough and he signalled for another two points to port. At the moment he
was practically without protection from his light craft.
Owing to his recent strenuous efforts to
close the enemy's battle fleet, all his own flotillas had not yet been able to
get up into their battle stations, and all he had for counter attack was
Commodore Le Mesurier's 4th Light Cruiser Squadron. (Calliope, Constance, Comus, Royalist, Caroline.) This
squadron was in station on the port wing, and on receiving a signal from the
Commander‑in‑Chief to attack, went round across the course of the
fleet at utmost speed. They were quickly engaged, and under their fire,
combined with that of the battleships, it would seem that in the second attack
also the enemy destroyers were unable to press near enough to be
May 31, 1916
effective. A number of torpedoes were fired,
but thanks to the turn away they were nearing the end of their run when they
crossed our line and were easily avoided.
Ten minutes later followed a third attack
from the 3rd and 5th Flotillas attached to the German battle fleet, but with no
better success. (See Diagrams 38 and 39.)
Diagram 38 - From 7.26 to 7.35
Diagram 39 - From 7.35 to 7.45
They, it seems, at once encountered
Commodore Le Mesurier, who launched his squadron against them with so much
energy that Admiral Jellicoe, being still unaware of the extent of the German
withdrawal, had to warn him not to get too near the enemy's battleships. So
hot, indeed, was his counter attack that the German destroyers never even had
sight of our fleet. In all three attacks not one of our ships had been touched,
while in the first attempt one of the enemy destroyers, S 35, had been sunk and apparently several others damaged. The
failure of the German flotillas to obtain any positive result under conditions
so favourable, was due to the ease with which their torpedoes were avoided. At
this time the Germans had not succeeded to the extent our own people had done
in concealing the tracks of torpedoes, and consequently their approach
could be seen in plenty of time for the necessary action to be taken. (This was
one of the surprises of the battle, and had it been known previously it might
have modified the instructions for avoiding torpedo attack.)
The one effective feature of the attack was
the smoke screen, which the destroyers developed so thickly as they returned
that nothing could be seen of the German fleet. No report of how complete the
turn away was had reached the Commander‑in‑Chief, and as the rear
ships were still firing he could only conclude that his inability to see the
enemy was due to the fouling of the western horizon. The guns he heard in his
rear were really the last that were being fired at the retreating destroyers.
This he could not tell, and he ordered the fleet to alter course five points
towards the enemy ‑ that is, to south by west (7.35) ‑ expecting at
any moment to have sight of them again as the smother cleared. It was the
course in any case which, until he knew where they were, would ensure
maintaining his dominant position between them and their base ‑ the only
way he could see of eventually forcing the enemy to decisive action. But
further information came almost immediately. Admiral Beatty on his southwesterly
course could still see a few of the enemy, but not distinctly enough to engage
them, and at 7.40 a signal (timed ten minutes earlier) was received from him
saying that the enemy bore N.W. by W. from him about ten miles. He was
THE MAIN ACTION
out of sight, and the Lion's
position as given by the signal was obviously wrong, but Admiral Jellicoe,
calculating correctly that she was five or six miles ahead of his van,
immediately signalled for line ahead and turned to S.W., the course Admiral
Beatty had given. (The position the Lion gave was Lat. 56¼ 56', Long. 6¼ 16', which would have made her two miles on the Iron Duke's port beam at 7.30. She
was actually five or six miles farther to S.W., so that at 7.40 she was about
five and a half miles ahead of Admiral Jerram.)
The situation, however, was still far from
clear. At 7.45 Commodore Goodenough, who had apparently seen the German turn
away at 7.15, sent an urgent message to say that at that time the enemy had
detached a number of ships of unknown type which were steering N.W. Shortly
after this the Commander‑in‑Chief received two important messages
from Admiral Beatty. At 7.45 he had sent a message to say that the leading
enemy battleship bore from him N.W. by W. on a course about S.W. The message
was passed en clair by searchlight, so that it reached the Commander‑in‑Chief
at 7.59. He at once turned the fleet by divisions to the westward in order
to close and informed Admiral Beatty to that effect. For twenty minutes he held
that course, and during that time, the second message sent at 7.50 reached him.
(See Diagram 40.)
Diagram 40 - From 7.45 to 8.15
It was in these words: " Submit van of
battleships follow battle cruisers. We can then cut off whole of enemy's battle
fleet." This was received in the Iron
Duke at 7.54, but being made by wireless had to be deciphered, and did not
come to the Admiral's hands until shortly after eight. By 8.7 Admiral Jerram,
who, on his own initiative had been steaming at a greater speed than the rest
of the fleet, was now well ahead, and had the Commander‑in‑Chief's
order to follow the battle cruisers. (Owing to the continual alteration of
course to starboard "in divisions," in order to close the enemy, it
had become necessary for Admiral Jerram, having the van squadron, to steam at
higher speed than the rest of the fleet in order to get into his station as
line ahead was reformed and to obtain a clear range. At 7.20 the fleet speed
had been reduced by signal to fifteen knots and increased again to seventeen at
8.0. During most of this period Admiral Jerram on his own initiative was
steaming nineteen knots, with the ships of his squadron keeping station upon
It was quick work. Admiral Jellicoe cannot
have hesitated a moment in adopting his colleague's proposal. It is true that
Admiral Beatty's ships were in no condition to meet battleships, but it
was the last chance of bringing the enemy to action before dark.
The situation was still obscure, nor is it
clear on what
May 31, 1916
evidence Admiral Beatty made his confident
suggestion. By that time, he had completely lost sight of the enemy in the
smoke screen, and altering course himself to west-south‑west he was
sending away the 1st and 3rd Light Cruiser Squadrons to sweep to the westward
and try to locate the head of the German line. As for the Commander‑in‑Chief,
he was still deeper in the dark. He had received no accurate information,
either from his own ships or from the Admiralty, as to the strength or
composition of the German fleet, still less of its order and disposition. Nor
could he ascertain the all‑important facts with his own eyes. All that he
had sighted was the dim shapes of a few ships, but whether they were van,
centre or rear it was impossible to tell. Now even these had faded away, and
whether their vanishing from view was caused by a thickening of the mist
or a tactical movement he could only guess. The situation was indeed so
completely wrapped in mystery as to baffle even his remarkable powers of
penetration, and it was some considerable time before the obscurity was in any
As soon as Admiral Scheer had withdrawn his
fleet well out of range beyond the smoke screen he had turned to the southward,
hoping apparently that if the British fleet started to chase him to the
westward he would be able to slip away to the Horn Reefs south of them. At all
events, having now no doubt, as he says, that he was in contact with the whole
British fleet, he had decided that his only chance was to make for Horn Reefs
by the shortest route and in close formation, and that to foil any
attempts to intercept him he must devote all his destroyers to night attacks
even at the risk of having to fight an action at daylight without them.
To bring about such a meeting he was sure
would be our object, and that we should consequently endeavour by strong
attacks in the twilight and using flotillas at night to force him to the
westward. The result could scarcely be doubtful with his fleet in the condition
it was. His van battle divisions had suffered further severe damage in the last
encounter, and his battle cruisers were in still worse plight. Admiral Hipper
had not yet succeeded in finding one fit to carry his flag. When he had got up
alongside the Seydlitz he found her
down by the bows and all her wireless gone, and was told she had shipped
several thousand tons of water. Then he tried the Moltke, but she was under too heavy a fire to stop for him, and as
for the Derfflinger, she proved to be
in even worse condition than the Seydlitz.
It was not until 9.50 that he
THE MAIN ACTION
hoisted his flag in the Moltke, having been on board the G 39 for about three hours. (According to the original German text
(p. 360) Admiral Hipper boarded the Moltke at 10.05 (9.05 G.M.T.). In the appendix at p. 534, however, the following
signals are recorded:‑ "G 39 to Moltke, visual, received 10.50
p.m.‑ A. C. Scouting Forces will board Moltke"; "Moltke to G 39, visual, received 10.55 p.m. ‑ Moltke has stopped." It would
appear, therefore, that 10.05 in the text is a miseprint for 10.50.)
It was at 7.53 that Admiral Scheer,
determined not to be forced to the westward further than could be helped,
ventured to turn to the south, with his disordered fleet gradually closing up
in reverse order. His pre‑Dreadnought squadron was now on the starboard
bow of the battle fleet, and the battle cruisers with their attached light
cruisers were to the east of them, doing the best their reduced speed would
allow to get into station ahead, while Admiral Scheer's own light cruiser
squadron (4th Scouting Group) had taken the place of Admiral Hipper's light
cruisers as advanced screen. So they steamed anxiously on upon the southerly
course. It was not the direct route for Horn Reefs, but it was as near to it as
presumably he thought it wise to attempt, and even so it was enough to bring
about what he apprehended.
Meanwhile, Admiral Jerram was at a loss how
to obey the order he had received to follow our battle cruisers. In asking for
the van squadron Admiral Beatty had not given his position, and the Commander‑in‑Chief
had therefore assumed that the Lion and King George V were in visual
touch. (Up to the time the order was given the Minotaur, of the 2nd Cruiser Squadron had been in sight of both
ships, but she had just passed out of sight from the King George V. She signals 8.10 and 8.55. (Jutland Despatches.))
But in fact they were not, and Admiral
Jerram had no means of knowing where the battle cruisers were. But now firing
was suddenly heard somewhere on his port beam. It was no sure guide ‑ gun‑fire
at sea is always difficult to locate ‑ but it was at least an indication,
and on it Admiral Jerram took action. Signalling to his squadron "Follow
me," he turned two points to port, which brought him west‑south‑west,
and called up Admiral Beatty to know his position, course and speed (8.21).
There was no reply, so he held on as he was. (See Diagram 41.)
Diagram 41 - From 8.15 to 8.35
The meaning of the firing he heard was that
Admiral Napier, in the Falmouth, in
sweeping westward with the 3rd Light Cruiser Squadron on Admiral Beatty's
orders to locate the head of the enemy's line, had run into contact with their
advanced cruiser squadron. At 8.10 he had been able to report to Admiral Beatty
that ships were in sight north by west, and five minutes later he sighted five
enemy light cruisers west by north steering across his bows. It was the 4th
Scouting Group, then steering south ahead of the German
May 31, 1916
battle fleet. He immediately turned parallel
and opened fire. His ships, being spread a mile apart to the southward of him,
could at first afford him no support, but as he closed them they came
successively into action. A sharp fight ensued until about 8.32, when the
Germans, having had enough, turned eight points away, and though the British turned
after them, they were soon lost to sight in the growing darkness. At 8.15
Admiral Beatty had turned to the same course as the battle fleet, but four
minutes later he caught sight of the German battle cruisers and pre‑Dreadnought
squadron coming south, and turning away a point to port he opened fire. At the
same time Admiral Jellicoe had further light. Some ten minutes earlier
Commodore Hawksley, who, in the light cruiser Castor, was on his port bow with part of the 11th Flotilla, saw
smoke in the W.N.W. and pushed out to investigate. (Commodore Hawksley was
Captain "D" of the 11th Flotilla and also Commodore "F,"
commanding all the Grand Fleet flotillas.)
Commodore Le Mesurier followed in support
with the first division of the 4th Light Cruiser Squadron (Calliope (broad pendant), Constance and Comus), and before Admiral Jerram
had started in search of the battle cruisers, he was able to inform him that
twelve enemy destroyers were in sight to the N.W. From the course they were
steering they seemed to be making for our battle cruisers, but with the help of
the Castor and her destroyers
Commodore Le Mesurier quickly drove them off, and as he pressed on in chase
came in sight of the German battle fleet steering south. Turning to a similar
course the Calliope fired a torpedo
at 6,500 yards, and then, coming under fire from three battleships, was
forced to retire. For ten minutes she was in a boil of splashes, but by
zigzagging managed to escape. Admiral Jellicoe now knew what to do. The enemy
were fairly well located, and at 8.28 he turned the fleet by divisions S.W.
towards the sound of Admiral Beatty's guns ‑ a movement which
brought it into line ahead again.
The position, therefore, could scarcely be
better. While Admiral Beatty had firm hold of the enemy's van squadrons well
ahead of them, Admiral Jellicoe was coming into line of battle abreast of their
main body on a converging course. By no possibility, even if Admiral Jerram had
known how to make for the battle cruisers directly he got the order, could he
have been up in time to reinforce them. Nor was his assistance needed. Already
the German ships under Admiral Beatty's fire were suffering, with no means of
making effective reply; for again in the deepening dusk they could see nothing
THE MAIN ACTION
but the gun‑flashes of their assailants.
Upon Admiral Hipper's squadron the punishment fell most severely. The Derfflinger had another turret
temporarily put out of action. The Seydlitz also suffered serious damage; it was more than in their crippled condition they
could endure, and only the action of Admiral Mauve's pre‑Dreadnought
squadron saved them. These old ships, being now ahead, had come into action for
the first time, and at last had their chance, so Admiral Scheer says, of justifying
Admiral Mauve's importunity to be allowed to accompany the fleet. It was
little they could do, but they stoutly held their ground till their battle
cruisers and light forces had passed to their disengaged side. For Admiral
Scheer the position was impossible. Threatened with what he most apprehended
- an attack in force in the twilight to press him to the westward ‑ he
turned away for the third time before our battle fleet had sight of him, and by
8.35, as he was once more lost in the thickening mists, the firing ahead was
Again Admiral Jellicoe was puzzled to know
the reason. On his starboard bow the Comus of the 4th Light Cruiser Squadron was still in action, and when he asked what
she was firing at she replied, "Enemy's battle fleet west." Unable to
penetrate the situation, Admiral Jellicoe then signalled to Admiral Beatty to
indicate the bearing of the enemy (8.46). (see Diagram 42.)
Diagram 42 - From 8.35 to 9.0
Hardly had the message gone when a signal
came in from the Falmouth, flagship
of the 3rd Light Cruiser Squadron, giving the bearing of the enemy as north and
their course W.S.W. (Her own position she gave as Lat. 56¼ 42' N., Long. 5¼ 37'
E., which was about five miles north of her actual position.
Admiral Jerram was also sending an urgent
message that our battle cruisers were not in sight (8.44), and ten minutes
later Admiral Beatty was asking the Minotaur where Admiral Jerram was, but as she had lost sight of him since 8.10 she could
not tell. The Lion's main wireless
had been shot away and she received the Commander‑in-Chief's message
indirectly, and before Admiral Beatty got his last query he sent to Admiral
Jellicoe the information for which he had been asking, " Enemy battle
cruisers and pre‑Dreadnought battleships," it said, "bear from
me N.34W., distant ten to eleven miles steering S.W." He then gave his position
and S.W. as his course. (The "time of origin" of this message is entered
in the Lion's log as 8.40; "time
of despatch" 8.59. Its receipt by the Iron
Duke is noted as 9.5.)
With sufficient accuracy he could now
May 31, 1916
the enemy were and What they were doing, and
further light came from Commodore Goodenough, who had his squadron in station
astern. He could be heard in action, and reported that he was engaging destroyers
which from the westward were trying to attack the 5th Battle Squadron. The 2nd
Light Cruiser Squadron sighted a "V" class torpedo boat, upon which
the Southampton and Dublin opened fire, hitting her
amidships. This can only have been the V 48,
which was sunk later by the destroyers of the 12th Flotilla. Firing could also
be heard ahead. The Caroline and Royalist, of the 4th Light Cruiser
Squadron, had just seen what they took to be the German pre‑Dreadnought
squadron, and the senior officer, Captain H. R. Crooke, made the signal to
attack with torpedo (8.50). Admiral Jerram who still could not make out where
Admiral Beatty was, and was expecting to sight him at any moment, at once
signalled "Negative the attack. Those are our battle‑cruisers."
Captain Crooke, however, could see more clearly, and having no doubt as to what
he had sighted, took upon himself the responsibility of ignoring the order and
proceeded with the attack. In spite of the storm of fire that met them the Caroline fired two torpedoes and the Royalist one at 8,000 yards. Then,
smothered with shell, they made off, and though both were straddled again and
again they escaped under a screen of funnel smoke little the worse for their
adventure. As for our destroyers, though they were in their battle stations
astern of the Caroline, they could
make no attempt to attack, for owing to the uncertainty of Admiral Beatty's
whereabouts, Admiral Jerram was in too much doubt about the enemy's identity to
open fire, and without battleship support a destroyer attack before dark is not
Though no harm was done to the enemy, the affair
was of value to the Commander‑in‑Chief. He now knew for certain
that he was still in a good position between the Germans and their base, and
that it was at least possible to force them further to the west. But the sun
had set nearly an hour before; the gloom all round was deepening into darkness,
and any further attempt to engage must involve a night action. This, like Lord
Howe on the same day in 1794, he was determined not to hazard. (See the despatch
in Barrow's Life of Howe, p. 232. With
a misty night coming on and an adversary so skilful at turning away it was
equally impossible for Admiral Jellicoe to bring the enemy "properly to
action," that is, in a manner likely to secure decisive results.)
Modern developments had only hardened
the long‑established objections which condemned fleet actions by night as
OF MAIN ACTION
for Admiral Jellicoe all that remained was
to determine what course to take so as to intercept the enemy in the morning.
"I was loth to forgo," he wrote in
his despatch, "the advantage of position which would have resulted from an
easterly or westerly course, and I therefore decided to steer to the southward,
where I should be in a position to renew the engagement at daylight." This
was at nine o'clock, while the firing was still going on. About ten minutes later
he heard from Admiral Jerram that our battle cruisers were in sight west‑north‑west
on a south‑westerly course, but in fact it was the enemy's battle
cruisers, not our own, that he had seen. There was nothing to suggest the
error, and the message as received did nothing to modify Admiral Jellicoe's
intentions. All it indicated was that he now had his whole force well together,
and at 9.17 he made a general signal for the fleet to assume night cruising
order in close formation so as to ensure keeping visual touch through the dark
hours and to avoid the risk of ships mistaking each other for the enemy. (The
actual signal was, "Assume second organisation. Form divisions in line
ahead, columns disposed abeam to port. Columns to be one mile apart." See
Diagram 43 - From 9.0 to 10.0
The organisation which the signal specified
brought the fleet into columns of squadrons instead of columns of divisions ‑
that is, it was now in three columns instead of six, with the 5th Battle
Squadron on the port flank. Admiral Beatty remained detached in advance of the
main body. At 9.16 he had taken in the Commander‑in‑Chief's signal
to all squadron commanders and flotilla captains that the course of the fleet
was south, and in view of the gathering darkness he seems to have come to the
same conclusion as his Chief, that it was unwise for him to attempt to engage
again before daylight. The reasons he gave in his report were his own distance
from the battle fleet and the damaged condition of the battle cruisers, while
the enemy were concentrated and accompanied by numerous destroyers; and finally
our strategical position was "such as to make it appear certain that we
should locate the enemy at daylight under most favourable circumstances."
On this appreciation, he says, "I did not consider it desirable or proper
to close the enemy battle fleet during the dark hours. 1 therefore concluded that
I should be carrying out the Commander‑in‑Chief's wishes by turning
to the course of the fleet, reporting to the Commander‑in‑Chief
that I had done so. My duty in this situation was to ensure that the enemy
fleet could not regain its base by passing round the southern flank of our
forces. I therefore turned to south at 9.24 p.m. at
May 31, 1916
seventeen knots . . . . with the 1st and 3rd
Light Cruiser Squadrons spread to the southward and westward."
Nothing probably could have more nicely
interpreted what was in Admiral Jellicoe's mind. The crux of the strategical
situation was the possibility of the enemy slipping away to the eastward either
ahead or astern during the night. There were three ways by which Admiral Scheer
could seek the safety of his base. One was by Horn Reefs and the Amrum bank;
the second was by a passage to the westward of Heligoland, and the third by
making the Frisian coast and so along the German swept channel from the Ems to
the Jade. On the course Admiral Jellicoe had chosen with the battle cruiser
fleet ahead of him he calculated he was "favourably placed to intercept
the enemy should he make for his base by steering for Heligoland or towards the
Ems." (Jutland Despatches, p.
21.) But his disposition did not so well provide for the Horn Reefs route
should the enemy attempt to reach it by passing across the northward of our
fleet. True, he had the three Harwich submarines lying in wait on a line from
the Vyl light‑vessel, but that was not enough to deny the enemy the Horn
Reefs passage. As an additional precaution he therefore ordered the Abdiel to proceed in accordance with her
original instructions and extend the minefield south of the submarine patrol
line. But, what was far more important, he took the fine decision (at 9.27) of
massing the whole of his flotillas five miles astern of the fleet. The risk
involved was not great. True it would leave him without an anti‑submarine
screen during the night, but he could count with fair certainty on having his
destroyers about him again at dawn. Meanwhile their presence five miles astern
would ensure him against attempts of the enemy's flotillas on his rear, and had
the great advantage of exposing the Germans to a massed torpedo attack should
they endeavour to pass north of him.
So with the battle fleet well closed up in
night cruising order, the destroyers astern and the battle cruiser fleet some
twelve miles a little before his starboard beam, he held on south, as, big with
fate, the night closed down.
JUTLAND ‑ THE FOURTH PHASE
As Admiral Jellicoe was doing all that time‑honoured
tradition and his own experience taught him, to ensure that the enemy should
not get away without a decision, his adversary appears to have made up his mind
as to what was his best chance of avoiding one. Foiled once if not twice in his
attempt to get by to the eastward, he could no longer delay another determined
effort to cross. (See Diagram 43 - repeated.)
Diagram 43 - From 9.0 to 10.0
At all hazards he must take the most direct
way home, though it involved another attempt to push across the enemy's wake
and the possibility of receiving another shock such as had baffled his first
effort. Accordingly at 9.10 ‑ that is, seven minutes before Admiral
Jellicoe had given directions to take up night cruising order ‑ he made
the necessary signals. The first was for the main body of the fleet to maintain
a course S.S.E.1/4 E. at 16 knots. This was the rallying course in case of
accidents, and it led in the direction of Horn Reefs. The organisation the
fleet was to assume followed: 1st Battle Squadron, 3rd Battle Squadron, 2nd
Battle Squadron; Battle Cruisers in the rear; 2nd Scouting Group ahead and the
4th Scouting Group to starboard. (The Westfalen (Captain Redlich) of the 1st Battle Squadron was leading the line.) He did not,
however, turn at once on the specified course. It would look as though he was
unwilling to approach the Grand Fleet till it had had time to draw well ahead,
and beyond the two scouting groups nearly all his destroyers were thrown out to
feel for it. Shortly after 9.30 the van began to lead round to port on the
course for Horn Reefs.
That he expected to find the way clear is
hardly credible. Presumably he was feeling for his enemy, and as the courses of
the two fleets were now fast converging his advanced guard cruisers came into
action almost immediately. What they struck was the destroyer rear guard where
the Castor with the 11th Flotilla had
taken station on the wing nearest the enemy,
May 31, 1916
with Commodore Hawksley at the head of two
divisions and Commander H. E. Sulivan in the Kempenfelt leading the remainder. About half an hour after Admiral
Scheer's change of course, the Commodore, peering through the darkness, could
make out ships on his starboard bow. What they were it was impossible to tell,
and he was making towards them when they showed challenging lights. To add to
the doubt as to their identity the first two signals they made were correct for
the British challenge of the day, but the other two were wrong. For Commodore
Hawksley, however, the uncertainty was soon set at rest. Suddenly the two
leading strangers switched on searchlights and at 2,000 yards opened fire.
Hitting began at once on both sides. Four times shells got home on the Castor, causing heavy casualties. One
set her motor barge on fire, and so fiercely did it blaze that the whole ship
became a brilliantly lighted target, and she turned away, but not before she
had fired a torpedo. The enemy seemed also to turn away to avoid it, and they
now disappeared. Each of the leading destroyers of the Castor's half‑flotilla Marne and Magic, had also fired one
torpedo, but they were so blinded by the rapid flashes of the Castor's guns that neither could see to
fire more, while as for the rest of the destroyers, they were so certain that a
mistake was being made, and that the strangers were some of our own ships, that
they refrained from firing at all. So in the first hour of darkness the
incalculable hazards of a night action were exemplified. (The German vessels
engaged at this time with the 11th Flotilla were the Hamburg and Elbing of the
4th Scouting Group, both of which ineffectively fired a torpedo, and almost immediately
afterwards the Frankfurt and Pillau of the 2nd Scouting Group opened
fire. The Hamburg received
considerable damage in this encounter, and three of her stokers and all the
crew of her No. 3 gun were seriously wounded.)
Abortive as the affair was it can only have
appeared to Admiral Scheer as the kind of attack he was expecting to be made in
order to force him to the westward. To all appearance it had been frustrated by
his van cruisers, but he nevertheless seems to have found it advisable to give
way a little, for at the time he would have got his cruisers' report he altered
a point to starboard (10.6). (See Diagram 44.)
Diagram 44 - The Night Movements. From 10.0 P.M. to 3.0 A.M.
But this proved insufficient to clear him.
Commodore Hawksley had hardly resumed his southerly course after the fleet when
Admiral Scheer could see that another engagement had started to eastward of
him. Here Commodore Goodenough with the 2nd Light Cruiser Squadron wais trying
to keep his station in rear of the battle fleet. He had fallen a good deal
astern of the Commander‑ in‑Chief,
for he had been keeping in touch with the Marlborough, which, owing to her torpedo
damage, was unable to do more than 16 knots. Admiral Burney's division was
consequently about four miles astern of station, and at 10.0 Admiral Evan‑Thomas
found it necessary to turn the 5th Battle Squadron back to look for him. In
spite of Admiral Scheer's last inclination to starboard the two fleets were
still on converging courses, and the result was that the 4th Scouting Group,
which had apparently taken station on his port beam, soon found themselves abreast
of Commodore Goodenough. (Stettin (Commodore von Reuter), Muenchen,
Frauenlob, Stuttgart, Hamburg.)
For him the meeting was no surprise. For
some time the play of searchlights and gun‑flashes to the westward, where
the Castor had been in action, had
warned him that the enemy was not far away. With starboard gun crews closed up
ready for instant action an intense look‑out was being kept, when,
against the faint glow that still tinged the western horizon, the silhouettes
of five cruisers took shape. (See Diagram 45 (A).)
Diagram 45 (A) - 10.30 P.M.
They were very close, and clearly on a
converging course. There could be little doubt what they were. For a moment or
two recognition lights began to twinkle from both lines, when, at a range
of eight hundred yards, Captain A. C. Scott of the Dublin was sure enough to fire. The shell could be seen to tear a
hole in the side of one of the strangers; instantaneously a dozen searchlights
were switched on to him and the Southampton,
and they were smothered with rapid fire by the whole enemy squadron. In a
moment all was a roar of passing and exploding shell and a wild confusion of
gun‑flashes, dazzling searchlight beams and rapid changes of course. It
was work in the old style at point‑blank range, with missing hardly
possible on either side. But the enemy were far from having it their own way.
Captains C. B. Miller and A. A. M. Duff of the Nottingham and Birmingham had judiciously kept their searchlights quiet, and the enemy, unable to see
them, left them alone to develop a rapid and destructive fire. At the first
glimpse of the Germans, moreover, the Southampton had got a torpedo tube ready, and while her deck, bridges and, superstructure
were being swept in the storm of shell, it was fired. A bright explosion was
seen in the enemy's line, and then suddenly they switched off their searchlights
and vanished into the gloom. In a quarter of an hour it was all over. The Southampton had had all her midship
guns' crews and most of her searchlight parties wiped out, she was
May 31, 1916
blazing like a beacon with cordite fires,
expecting every moment to blow up, and her casualties were thirty‑five
killed and forty‑one wounded. The Dublin fared better, having only two ships on her, but she too lost heavily. She was
on fire between decks, her navigator was killed and her charts all destroyed, so
that, as she soon after lost touch with the Southampton, she could not tell where she was and was not able to rejoin
her squadron until 10.15 a.m. the following day. As for the Germans, seeing,
that for those deadly minutes the Nottingham and Birmingham had been pouring
in rapid fire at point‑blank practically undisturbed, they can scarcely
have suffered less. (The German returns for 4th Scouting Group in this and the
previous action with the Falmouth give the losses for the Stettin, Muenchen and Hamburg killed 31, wounded 71.
Those of the Stuttgart are not
recorded. The Frauenlob (sunk) 320.)
One ship was lost with all hands, for the Southampton's torpedo found its billet
in the Frauenlob, and in a quarter of
an hour she went down with her 12 officers and 308 men. Her end was not seen;
for the Southampton and Dublin, under the crushing
concentration, had been forced to turn away to master their fires. This was
soon done, and the Commodore held on to the eastward till he came across the
5th Battle Squadron, when he gathered his scattered squadron (less the Dublin) to form a rear guard against
With his wireless put out of action and his
squadron temporarily out of touch it was impossible for Commodore Goodenough to
communicate his news to the Commander‑in-Chief. The glitter of the action
could be seen in the Iron Duke, but
its significance was not grasped. Admiral Jellicoe had fully expected a torpedo
attack would be made on his rear, and the need of guarding against it was one
of the reasons that decided him to mass his flotillas astern. He had little
doubt that what he anticipated was happening, and shortly before 11.0 ‑ that
is, about the time the Frauenlob went
down Hawksley received from him the query: "Are you engaging enemy
destroyers? " The reply was already on its way, crossing the Commander‑in‑Chief's
message, and it said "Have been engaged with enemy cruisers," and the
inference in the Iron Duke was that
these were ships acting in support of destroyers.
Destroyers indeed had been sighted in the
vicinity of the flotilla which was next to the Commodore to the eastward.
This was the 4th Flotilla, under Captain C. J. Wintour. (Captain Wintour had
only twelve boats with him. He was leading the 1st half flotilla in the
flotilla leader Tipperary, with
Commander W. L. Allen leading the 2nd half in the Broke. The two boats that were left of the Shark division, Ophelia and Christopher, were screening
Admiral Beatty's squadron. Another division, Owl, Hardy and Midge, were with the armoured cruisers.
The remaining three of the twenty were refitting. The 1st half flotilla
consisted of the Spitfire, Sparrowhawk, Garland, Contest; the 2nd
half of Achates, Ambuscade, Ardent, Fortune, with the Porpoise and Unity of
the last division, following. At this time they were in two columns, but half
an hour later Captain Wintour ordered the Broke to form her divisions astern of him.)
FOR HORN REEFS
At about 10.10 he was turning sixteen points
into his assigned station on a southerly course when three of his rear boats
were aware of three or four enemy destroyers to the northward, who fired
four torpedoes at them, but before our people could get off more than a round
or two in reply they disappeared into the darkness. Shortly afterwards the Garland, which was one of the destroyers
that had fired, sighted a light cruiser of the "Graudenz" class to
westward going south, and Captain Wintour held on upon the same course in accordance
with his orders (10.35). Five minutes later the Boadicea, Admiral Jerram's attached light cruiser, was reporting
enemy ships on her starboard beam. None of‑these reports reached the
flagship, the observations not being deemed of sufficient importance to justify
betraying the position of the battle fleet by signalling them to the Commander‑in‑Chief.
So far, then, he had no information to modify his belief that he was still between
the enemy and their base. There was nothing, therefore, to suggest a change of
plan, and he continued his southerly course.
Admiral Scheer, however, may have had
something more definite to go upon, for the 9.27 general signal to the British
flotillas had been intercepted by the German wireless station at Neumuenster and
passed to him, but whether the message actually came to his hand cannot be
definitely established. What he did know was that his advanced cruisers had
been in contact with some of our destroyers, and in all probability he was also
informed that his searching destroyers had located others of ours to the south
of them, but had found no trace of the battleships. On these indications it
must have seemed that our fleet had drawn far enough ahead for him to risk an
attempt to escape by passing across his enemy's wake. At all events, shortly
after half‑past ten he altered course to port upon a course S.E. by S.,
direct for the Horn Reefs light‑vessel.
By this time the sky had become overcast,
the night was very dark, and he was feeling his way with the 2nd Scouting Group
in line ahead, and his available destroyers spread before him in a wide "V"
formation E.N.E. and S.S.W. from the
May 31, 1916
van ship. (Scheer, High Seas Fleet, p. 160. The screen consisted of the 2nd, 5th and
7th Flotillas and part of the 6th and 9th, possibly about forty destroyers. A
great many of the boats, he says, had fired all their torpedoes in the day
fighting; some were astern protecting the Luetzow,
and others were held back by the flotilla leaders in case of emergency.)
It was with the port wing of these ships
that Captain Wintour must have come into contact, but for nearly an hour
nothing more broke the calm and blackness of the night. The reason may
have been that some time after the Castor's action the German fleet had inclined away a little to starboard, and was
not converging so much as it had been up to ten o'clock. Whatever the cause,
the long spell of quiet could only confirm the Commander-in‑Chief in
his belief that the enemy were to the westward of him, and he was holding on to
the southward while Admiral Burney's division, unbeknown to him, was falling
farther and farther astern. Some fifteen miles away before the Iron Duke's starboard beam was Admiral
Beatty, with all the battle cruisers screened by two divisions of the 1st
Flotilla and the Christopher and Ophelia of the 4th Flotilla. (See
Diagram 45 (B).)
Diagram 45 (B) - 11.20 P.M.
On his starboard quarter was the 3rd Light
Cruiser Squadron with the 1st in company. The latter he had ordered to take
station four miles on his starboard beam and to keep a sharp look‑out for
the enemy north by west; but the Lion was out of sight and the light cruisers were only able to take station on her
assumed position. Admiral Beatty, too, must have been fairly sure the fleet was
holding the Germans away from their base and expecting to find them to the
westward in the morning. But in fact they had crossed astern of him more than
an hour before, and Admiral Scheer, heading for the Horn Reefs, was some
fifteen miles to the northeastward of the Lion, when at 11.30 the fight broke out again and the power of
Admiral Jellicoe's massed flotillas to bar the escape of the High Seas Fleet
was put to a fiery test.
When the hour came ‑ the hour that was
to decide the question which had been the food of so much thought and
experiment during the years of preparation ‑ Captain Wintour was leading
his flotilla south in line ahead. To the eastward, but nearly seven miles away,
was Captain Farie in the light cruiser Champion,
leading the seven remaining boats of the 13th Flotilla (Obdurate, Moresby, Nerissa, Narborough, Nicator, Pelican, Petard), with the Termagant and Turbulent of the 10th. Close
abeam of him were the four Harwich boats of the 9th Flotilla (Lydiard, Liberty, Landrail, Laurel), with the Morris of the 10th. (The Moorsom had been sent back owing to damaged oil tanks, due to a hit in the afternoon
4TH FLOTILLA IN
And then, also well in station, came Captain
A. J. B. Stirling leading fourteen boats of the 12th Flotilla in the Faulknor. Between the two groups there
was thus a wide space owing to the fact that the eastern flotillas were keeping
station on Admiral Burney's division, which was still dropping more and more
astern owing to the Marlborough's
This was the position when, towards 11.20,
Captain Wintour and the leading boats of his solitary flotilla were aware of a
shadowy line of ships to starboard on a converging course. Whether they were
friend or foe it was impossible to tell, and he held on for some minutes with
all torpedo tubes trained to starboard. Still they made no sign, and at last,
as they were evidently drawing ahead of him and had closed to less than 1,000 yards,
he ventured to give the challenge. (It would appear that on hearing of
this first contact the van of the High Seas Fleet hauled away a little to
starboard, and then led in again to E.S.E. to resume its station. Consequently
by 11.20 there was a substantial kink in the line.)
Salvoes, accurate and rapid, at point blank
followed instantaneously, and in a minute the Tipperary burst into flames, almost lost to sight in brilliantly
illuminated splashes. Yet she fired both her torpedoes. The four boats of her
division did the same, and so did the Broke.
Some of the rear boats, still uncertain that a mistake was not being made, held
their fire till accidentally one of the enemy's beams lit up the rear ship.
Then it was plain to see what they had to deal with, and they also attacked.
Several of the boats claim to have hit. Explosions were plainly seen; there
were gaps in the line of staring searchlights. How many hits were made is
uncertain, but one at least of the cruisers received her death blow. It was the Elbing of the 2nd Scouting Group,
part of the advanced screen of the High Seas Fleet. In face of the destroyer
attack they had turned away and tried to escape by passing through the line of
the leading battle squadron. The Frankfurt and the Pillau succeeded, but the Elbing, less fortunate, was badly rammed
by the Posen. She did not sink at
once, but had soon to be abandoned. (Damage was also sustained by the Westfalen, Nassau and Rheinland, all of which were hit in
their foremost funnels and searchlights. Their casualties were ten killed and
All that man could do Captain Wintour had
done, but he was now no more. The first salvo had swept away the Tipperary's bridge, on which he stood,
and she was left a mass of burning wreckage. (Nine of the Tipperary's crew were rescued by the German S.53.) Lieutenant‑Commander C.W.E. Trelawny in the Spitfire was next astern. Unable to
reload his tubes for another attack ‑ his torpedo davit had been disabled
May 31, 1916
‑ he had to he content with smashing
an enemy's searchlight with gunfire, and then came back to his leader's
assistance. In the fierce glare of the flames he could see nothing. All around
was impenetrable blackness, till out of it he suddenly saw what he took to be
two German cruisers coming down upon him. Then followed one of the most remarkable
incidents of the battle. "The nearer one," he wrote, "
altered course to ram me apparently. I therefore put my helm hard‑a‑port
and the two ships rammed each other port bow to port how. I consider I must
have considerably damaged this cruiser, as twenty feet of her side plating was
left on my forecastle." As the two ships met at full speed the enemy fired
her forward guns, over the Spitfire.
She was too close for their utmost depression to secure a hit, but the blast blew
away her bridge, searchlight platform and foremost funnel, and left officers
and men half stunned and entangled in a mass of wreckage. Her forecastle was
torn open, sixty feet of her bow plating was shorn away, and she took fire. As
soon as Lieutenant‑Commander Trelawny had extricated himself from the
ruin of the bridge he threw overboard the steel chest containing the
secret books. Only by a miracle could a destroyer survive such an adventure,
but, wonderful to relate, she did survive. And the wonder increases now that we
know it was no mere cruiser she had met in full career, but the German Dreadnought Nassau. Thanks to those who designed
and constructed her the Spitfire was
able to limp away with three boilers still going, and in due course came home
carrying the plating and part of the anchor gear of her mighty antagonist as
trophies of the conflict. (See Diagram 45(B) - repeated.)
Diagram 45 (B) - 11.20 P.M.
As for the remainder of the fleet, this
uproar and confusion so close at hand was too much for it, and with the
firing at its height the van led away to starboard until it was steering S.S.W,
nearly eight points off its course for home. Eight minutes later Admiral Scheer,
who had just reached the turning point, made a peremptory signal, ordering the
fleet to steer S.E. by S., and by 11.34 the Westfalen had again turned on the direct course for Horn Reefs.
Meanwhile the Broke had taken the Tipperary's
place. Commander Allen found that half a dozen boats had got into line astern
of him, and in the order Sparrowhawk, Garland, Contest, Ardent, Fortune, Porpoise, he was leading then, southward, where he judged he
should find the enemy again. (See Diagram 45(C).)
Diagram 45 (C) - 11.40 P.M.
He was not far wrong. In a few minutes ‑
it was about 11.40 ‑ he could see a large ship on his starboard bow
heading to cross his course. He challenged. The answer was again
a blaze of searchlights and a burst of rapid
fire. Commander Alien swung to port to bring his tubes to bear. Lieutenant-Commander
S. Hopkins in the Sparrowhawk did the
same, and then to his horror he saw that the Broke, instead of steadying her helm, was continuing to swing and coming
straight for him. As the Broke turned
she had been hit by a salvo which put her out of control. There was no time to
avoid a collision, and she crashed into the Sparrowhawk just before the bridge. Only by a hair's breadth the Garland avoided the Sparrowhawk and turned away, but the Contest,
coming next, did not see the trouble in time and cut five feet of her stern
clean off as she lay locked with the Broke.
(The Broke again came into action
with two enemy destroyers early the next morning, but escaped to the northward,
with the intention of making Scapa or Cromarty. Owing however to a strong
breeze springing up from the north‑west she had keep away to the south
and arrived in the Tyne at 5.0 p.m. on June 3.)
What it was they had come upon was not
clear. Searchlights and gun‑flashes seemed to be all round them.
Some were sure the first ship encountered was of the "Westfalen"
type, and it seems they had hit the head of the German battle fleet as it was
passing across Admiral Jellicoe's wake. The attack was not without effect, for
one torpedo got home on the Rostock,
flagship of Commodore Michelsen, commanding the destroyers, and she was
severely damaged. She, like the Elbing (abandoned and sunk about 3.40 a.m.), managed to keep afloat for a time, and
crawling away to the southward was eventually also (4.25 a.m.) abandoned and
sunk by her crew. After the collision, which put the Broke and Sparrowhawk out of action, Commander R. B. C. Hutchinson in the Achates took command of the 2nd half flotilla, and continued south
after the battle fleet. The Contest,
not much injured by the collision, was with them, and the Garland had rejoined and had taken station in the line when more
battleships were seen ahead. Then followed another wild scene of din and glare
like the last. Commander Hutchinson, believing some of our own cruisers were
between him and the enemy, held his fire till it was too late to attack. The Ambuscade discharged her two remaining
torpedoes before she and the Achates were chased off by cruisers to the eastward, and, unable to cross ahead of the
enemy's line after our battle fleet, had to make for the northward to circle
back that way. Meanwhile the next astern, the Ardent, was attacking a ship which had picked up her next astern
the Fortune (Lieutenant‑Commander
F. G. Terry), and was smothering her with salvoes. The Ardent fired a torpedo
May 31, 1916
which was believed to have hit, but the Fortune had been badly hit, and though
already in flames and sinking, she was gallantly firing her guns to the last at
her big adversary. She was being fired at by the battleship Rheinland which the Porpoise sighted abaft her starboard beam, but before the latter
could attack she was struck by a heavy shell, which put her out of action. Yet
she was able to crawl away, while the Ardent was now the only one of the flotilla fit for further service.
This destroyer now found herself alone, and
having escaped with little injury, made away southwards in the hope of finding
the rest of her division, which in fact had ceased to exist. What she fell in
with was something quite different. The German battle fleet, in spite of our
flotilla attacks, was still holding on for Horn Reefs, and had just achieved a
wholly unexpected success. Ever since Admiral Arbuthnot's cruiser squadron had
been practically wiped out at the moment of deployment, the Black Prince (Captain T. P. Bonham) had
not been seen. She had completely lost touch, and had fallen far astern, and it
would seem that she was making the best of her way south after the fleet, when
she now suddenly found herself close abreast of the German centre. In a
moment she was in a glare of searchlights, a tornado of shell at point‑blank
rent her from stem to stern, and in two minutes she was a mass of flames. For a
while she was seen as a floating furnace, and then, with an appalling
explosion, sank with all hands (12.10).
Undisturbed by the incident, the Germans
held on their course, so that in a minute or two Lieutenant‑Commander A.
Marsden in the Ardent saw smoke ahead
of him, and thinking it came from his consorts he made towards it. Then the
form of a large German ship loomed up, and without hesitation he attacked.
Another torpedo was fired at very close range, but before he could see the
result he was blinded by the searchlights of four battleships in line ahead. (They
were in fact the four leading German battleships.) Out of the glare came the
inevitable hurricane of shell.. In a minute or so the Ardent was a mass of scrap‑iron, and switching off their
lights the enemy disappeared and left her to sink in total darkness. She was
lost with all hands (12.19) except Lieutenant‑Commander Marsden and one
So ended the work of the gallant 4th
Flotilla. Alone they had borne the brunt, of the whole German battle fleet, and
not a man had flinched. Again and again as a group of the enemy tore them with
shell at point‑blank and disappeared they sought another, and
attacked till nearly every
boat had spent all her torpedoes or was a
wreck. Such high spirit and skill had they shown that one thing was certain
- the failure of the flotilla to achieve all that was generally expected from
it was due to no shortcoming in the human factor. It was the power of the
weapon itself that had been overrated.
During all this time of intermittent
fighting in the rearguard our battle fleet, never suspecting what it
really meant, was holding on steadily to the southward. From the main body,
with the Commander‑in‑Chief, the enemy star shells and the glare of
the successive actions could be seen on the low clouds, first on their
starboard quarter, gradually shifting to right astern and even further to the
eastward, but captain after captain records the impression that it was our
light cruisers and destroyers repelling an attack on the rear of the fleet. The Vanguard, of Admiral Sturdee's squadron,
actually reports an attack on Admiral Jerram, whose squadron was on her
starboard beam. (The Thunderer,
Admiral Jerram's rear ship, and the Boadicea,
report having sighted an enemy cruiser at 10.30. This was either the Moltke, or the Seydlitz, but fire was not opened upon her as it was considered
inadvisable to show up the battle fleet unless there was an obvious intention
to attack, and she stated she saw our destroyers afterwards attacking this
Admiral Burney, though he was several miles
astern, and more to the eastward, could see no more. All he could tell was
that there were short bursts of firing first on his starboard beam and then
astern. The 5th Battle Squadron was at certain critical times nearest to the
enemy and would seem to have been in a still better position to detect what was
going on, but Admiral Evan‑Thomas only records that at 10.15 heavy firing
was observed a little abaft the starboard beam, " which," he says,
"I surmised to be attacks by enemy destroyers and light craft on our light
cruisers and destroyers." (Admiral Evan‑Thomas had now only three
ships, Barham, Valiant and Malaya. The Warspite, owing to the damage she had
received when the Grand Fleet was deploying, found she could do no more than 16
knots. She became isolated, and on asking for the position of the battle fleet
received orders to make her way back to Rosyth.)
At 10.39 there was similar firing on his
starboard quarter, and again at 11.35 right astern, but it still seemed to be
no more than a destroyer attack on cruisers. The Valiant, which was second in the squadron, saw the Castor's action much as it occurred, and at 11.30 another action two miles
on her starboard quarter. The Malaya,
her next astern, seems to have been the only ship that had any reason to
believe that German battleships were being engaged by our flotillas. At 11.40
she could see some of our destroyers three
May 31, 1916
points abaft her starboard beam attacking
some big ships, but they seemed to be steering the same course as our own
fleet. Then suddenly, amongst the din and glitter of the fight, it could be
seen that one of the enemy had been hit by a torpedo. In the flash of the
explosion the Malaya thought she
could identify the leader of the ships that were being attacked as a
Dreadnought of the "Westfalen" class. For some reason this important
piece of information was not passed on to the Commander‑in‑Chief to
warn him that he was drawing ahead of the enemy.
By that time, however, he had in his hands a
highly important message from the Admiralty. This was timed 10.41, and was
received in the Iron Duke at 11.5. It
read as follows:‑ "German Battle Fleet ordered home at 9.14 p.m.
Battle Cruisers in rear. Course S.S.E. 3/4. E. Speed 16 knots." This
message was a summary of three signals intercepted in the Admiralty, two at
9.55 and one at 10.10. The first was one which Admiral Scheer made at 9.14
ordering the retirement and giving the course the fleet was to steer during the
night. The second, made at 9.29, gave the fleet's formation, while the third,
timed 9.46, gave a slightly different course. A far more vitally important
signal, however, taken in at the Admiralty also at 10.10, was an urgent request
by Admiral Scheer for air reconnaissance at Horn Reefs. This information, which
would have told Admiral Jellicoe beyond any doubt exactly what was his
opponent's intention, was not forwarded to him.
It is possible, however, that an earlier
message sent by the Admiralty to the Commander‑in‑Chief at 9.58,
which gave the position of Admiral Scheer's rear ship at 9.0, was considered
sufficient indication of the route homewards that the enemy intended to take.
But the inference was not so obvious to Admiral Jellicoe. This earlier Admiralty
message stated the position to be Lat. 56¼33 N., Long. 5¼30 E., but this he
could not accept as it made the German fleet some ten miles to the south‑westward
of his own van when he turned south, at which time he knew that it must have
been well to the north‑westward of the Iron Duke. Moreover, had the Admiralty position been correct, and
had Admiral Scheer acted on his 9.14 order to make for the base, it was
scarcely possible that some intimation of the movement would not have reached
the flagship at least an hour earlier, and the last intimation Admiral Jellicoe
had had was Commodore Hawksley's signal (sent by wireless at 10.50) that it was
only cruisers that were engaging him. He could thus be sure that at least a
the enemy's fleet was in touch with his
rear. He considered it highly improbable that Admiral Scheer, seeing night
fighting ahead of him, would steer straight into it. It would more probably
force him to the northward or westward. Should he take the risk, however,
Admiral Jellicoe could hope that his massed destroyers would get a chance to
attack. In default therefore of more trustworthy intelligence about the
battleships he held on as he was, nor did the next information he received
afford any ground for changing his appreciation. Within the next half‑hour
two more messages came in, and both of them went to show that Admiral Scheer
was not yet making for home. One was from Commodore Goodenough. At last he had
been able, through the Nottingham,
whose wireless was intact, to report his action with the 4th Scouting Group.
The message read: "Have engaged enemy cruisers at 10.15 bearing west‑south‑west,"
a clear indication that at that time the enemy was still to the westward of our
battle fleet. The other message was from Captain Duff of the Birmingham, who, in retiring eastward
after the action, had had to turn to port to avoid the 5th Battle Squadron, and
so had lost company with the Commodore. What he had to say was: "Battle
cruisers, unknown number probably hostile, in sight north‑east, course
south. My position Lat. 56¼26 N., Long. 5¼42 E." (There would appear to
have been no enemy to the N.E. at this time.)
The message could only confirm the
Commander‑in‑Chief's belief that the German fleet was not making
for Horn Reefs, and that the fighting that was going on could be nothing more
than his rearguard repelling an attempt of the enemy light craft to attack from
astern. We have seen how admirable the information from Commodore Goodenough's
squadron had been all through, and in the circumstances it must have seemed
more trustworthy, and was certainly more definite than the Admiralty intercept.
With such conflicting evidence before him Admiral Jellicoe could do no
other than accept that from his own vessels on the spot. To him, therefore,
there was still nothing to warrant a change in his considered plan for the
night, and he continued his course south.
Erroneous as was the impression which
Captain Duff's message conveyed, the course given was correct. When the van of
the German fleet came for the second time into contact with the 4th Flotilla it
had turned sharply away to south‑west. At 11.30, as we have seen, it
turned back to south, and was actually on that course when Captain Duff
May 31–June 1, 1916
made his report. In four minutes, however,
the enemy resumed the course for Horn Reefs, but even when this brought their
battle fleet in contact with the 4th Flotilla for the third time, no report of
what it was attacking reached the Commander‑in‑Chief, so that
the firing was only further evidence that it was the enemy's light forces
making another attempt on his rear.
Although Admiral Scheer was thus left at the
critical hour to pass astern of his enemy, with no interference from our battle
fleet, he was not yet clear of our flotillas, and it was still not too late for
Admiral Jellicoe to stop him. But the good fortune which the Germans had earned
by their bold movement stood by them. As the were steering, and as our flotillas
were disposed they should have run right into the western group. But it so
happened that the southerly course which the group was steering had been
interrupted. Overs from the fight with the 4th flotilla had been falling among
them, particularly on the 13th Flotilla, which was the westernmost. (See
Diagram 45 (C) - repeated.)
Diagram 45 (C) - 11.40 P.M.
In the bewilderment of searchlights,
gun‑flashes and explosions Captain Farie, who was leading it in the Champion, believed that he himself was
being fired on, and judging that our own people were between him and the enemy,
he considered it was impossible to deliver an attack. He therefore swerved away
to the eastward. As, however, he made the turn without signal, only the two
destroyers immediately astern followed him, and as he led them away to the
eastward he forced the Harwich destroyers which were next, as well as the 12th
Flotilla, which was beyond them also, to turn away to port in order to clear.
The effect was to open a road for the Germans to pass, and nothing was seen of
them except two cruisers, now known to have been the Frankfurt and Pillau, all
that remained of the leading scouting group. These two came upon the Menace and Nonsuch, the rear boats of the 12th Flotilla as it swung to the
southeastwards, and attacked them very close. So near a thing was it that
the Menace barely avoided being
rammed, while the Nonsuch, after an
attempt to attack, only escaped by making off to the eastward at full speed,
and was never able to rejoin her flotilla.
Thus the eastern group was broken up without
having found opportunity to attack. The 12th Flotilla was forced right round to
the north‑east by the Champion's
movement, and it was not till 12.20 that it was able to turn south again. The
bulk of the Champion's flotilla, being
unable to find her, had come up astern of Commander M. L. Goldsmith; who
was leading the Harwich divisions in the Lydiard. The Unity had also found him, so that he now had a force of twelve
destroyers and was leading them south‑west at high speed, hoping to get
on the far side of the enemy's battle fleet. (Lydiard, Liberty, Landrail, Laurel of the 9th Flotilla; Morris, Termagant and Turbulent of the 10th, Unity of the 4th, and Nerissa, Nicator, Narborough, Pelican, and Petard of the 13th.)
Though he did not know so many boats were
following his lead, he was thus in a position to deal a serious blow, for he
was actually steering to pass close ahead of the German van. After forcing
their way past the last of the 4th Flotilla at midnight they had resumed the fixed
course for home, so that they were steering nearly at right angles to the
course of Commander Goldsmith's flotilla as it ran south‑west. But, as
luck would have it, by 12.25 he had passed across their course without seeing
them. But so near a thing was it that the last four boats of the 13th Flotilla,
as they followed him, had sight of them. The first two had passed, and were too
late to attack, but the last two were right in the enemy's path. The Petard (Lieutenant‑Commander
Thomson), which was the rear boat but one, as she came on was suddenly aware of
a dark mass six hundred yards away bearing close down upon her.
That it was a German battleship was quickly
clear, and the Petard was in
admirable position for attack, but again the enemy's luck stood by them. Of all
our destroyers the Petard was the
only one that had fired all her torpedoes, and impotent for mischief she turned
away to port, but only just in time to clear the enemy's stem. Then a blaze of
searchlights revealed four battleships in line ahead - the same that had
been attacked by the Ardent, which
had just gone down a couple of miles to the northward. In a hail of shell from
their secondary armament the Petard made off out of the beams, and was fortunate enough to get away with little
injury, but not before she had seen the leading enemy ship crash into the Turbulent, the last boat in the line,
and sink her with all hands. So for the night the flotilla attacks ended and
the impossible had happened. In spite of the massed flotilla rear guard Admiral
Scheer had succeeded in passing across his adversary's wake during the hours of
darkness, and without injury to a single capital ship. (See Diagram 45 (D, E
Diagram 45 (D) - Midnight.
Diagram 45 (E) - 12.15 P.M.
Diagram 45 (F) - 12.30 P.M.
As a strategical expedient for barring the
passage of a battle fleet the flotillas had failed. With all conditions of
light and weather as favourable as could be expected, they had been simply
overpowered by the enemy's searchlights, star‑shells and secondary
armament. The spirit of attack had
May 31-June 1, 1916
not been wanting, though some have thought
that the organisation did not lend itself well to individual enterprise.
Possibly with an organisation in smaller units they might have done more, but,
on the other hand, the risk of mutual interference and the fear of mistaking
friend for foe would have been greater. All we know is that the German organisation
for repelling destroyer attack proved unexpectedly effective. During the
various night attacks four of our destroyers were sunk and three disabled, and
all they could justly claim to have sunk were two light cruisers. The enemy's
battle fleet was intact.
The German destroyers, too, failed to
realise expectations; for in spite of Admiral Scheer's special dispositions and
his direct order to his flotillas to make night attacks (Scheer, High Seas Fleet, p. 159), not one was
delivered. "It is remarkable," says Commander von Hase, "and much to
be regretted, that throughout the whole night our destroyers searching for the
English Grand Fleet failed to find them, although they knew exactly where they
were last seen." (Hase, Kiel and
Jutland, p. 219.)
The orders to the German destroyer flotillas
for the night did not disclose the skill that is expected from a highly trained
naval staff. Thus, the 2nd Flotilla, consisting of the fastest and most
powerful boats, and, moreover, still having a full complement of torpedoes, was
detailed for the area where it was least likely to have any chance of action.
This flotilla returned via the Skagerrak, and reached Kiel the next day
practically undamaged. The slowest boats, some with only one torpedo each, were
detailed for the two most promising areas. Errors in reckoning and in
signalling also contributed to the failure of the enemy to demonstrate his
claimed superiority in night fighting.
JUTLAND ‑ THE LAST PHASE
THE FIRST OF JUNE
HIGH up in the North Sea summer nights are
short. In little more than an hour after the midnight firing had died away dawn
would begin to lift the veil which still denied to Admiral Jellicoe certainty that
his judgment was correct. In an hour or so all eyes would be straining into the
great horizon to know if there was to be another first of June to take
perhaps an even greater place in naval history than that which had immortalised
the name of Howe. With no less intense expectation he and his captains had
watched the coming of the morning sixscore years before. The grounds for
confidence were as firm for the one Admiral as for the other. As Lord Howe made
sure he had the enemy fairly to leeward, so Admiral Jellicoe had little doubt
he was in a position between them and their bases and was equally in a position
to force an action. It was to the northward that he expected them to reappear.
With leaden feet the minutes went by as all watched for what the dawn would
bring. Few doubted it would be what they desired and none what the result would
If there was any misgiving it was mistrust
of the weather. As the night advanced, the mists, which had cleared a little,
began to thicken again, and a wind was getting up that promised anything
but a fine summer day. Scattered over a wide battlefield injured ships were beginning
to struggle with a rising sea. The Sparrowhawk,
with her stern cut off, was still afloat, and so was the Tipperary, though she was sinking fast. The Porpoise and Spitfire could still steam, but the Ardent and Fortune were gone, while all the
flotillas that had hitherto attacked were more or less dispersed, and most of
them had fired all their torpedoes. Away to the northward, too, Admiral Hipper's
shattered flagship, the Luetzow, in
hopeless plight, was being abandoned. So also were the light cruisers Elbing and Rostock, which had met their fate in the night action.
The only flotilla that could still bar the
way to the German
June 1, 1916
fleet was the 12th. The movements of the Champion, as we have seen, had forced it
away to the eastward and northward, until it was nearly thirty miles to the
north-north‑eastward of the battle fleet. Thus it was that as it
came south the German fleet had to pass across its course. Captain Stirling was
leading the first half in the Faulknor,
with the 1st Division (Obedient, Mindful, Marvel and Onslaught) on
his starboard quarter and the 2nd Division (Maenad, Narwhal, Nessus and Noble)
similarly disposed to port. Astern was Commander Sulivan, in the flotilla
leader Marksman, with the second half
(Opal, Menace, Munster and Mary Rose). Captain Stirling thus had at
his disposal, besides the two flotilla leaders, twelve powerful 34‑knot
destroyers of the most recent type, each with four torpedo tubes. (Of the other
four destroyers the Nonsuch had lost
touch. The Mischief had been detailed
on leaving harbour to join the armoured cruisers destroyer screen and was still
with them. The remaining two, Napier and Mameluke, were refitting.)
To the eastward of him again was Captain
Farie in the Champion with the two
destroyers Obdurate and Moresby, that had been able to follow
his lead, so that both he and the 12th Flotilla were converging on the enemy's
course. (See Diagram 45 (G and H).)
Diagram 45 (G) - 2.0 A.M.
Diagram 45 (H) - 1.40 A.M. to 2.45 A.M.
At 1.45, just as the first streaks of dawn
were waking the black horizon, Captain Stirling could make out a line of large
ships on his Sstarboard bow, on a south‑easterly course. It was still too
dark and misty to tell what they were, but as he closed he recognised them as
German battleships. Certain now they were not a squadron of our own fleet, he
turned to a similar course and ordered Commander G. W. McO. Campbell in the Obedient to attack with the 1st
Division. Then, increasing to 25 knots himself, he signalled to the Commander‑in‑Chief
that enemy battleships were in sight, with what result will be seen later. But
Commander Campbell was scarcely well on his way with the Marvel and Onslaught when
he had to report that the enemy were no longer visible. They had, in fact,
turned away six points or more together to avoid the attack. Captain Stirling
now ordered the 1st Division to take station astern of him, and being sure the
enemy would quickly resume their course, proceeded south‑east at full
speed to get into position to attack from ahead. Ten minutes later (2.6)
judging himself to be far enough advanced, he led round sixteen points to starboard
to deliver his attack. Almost immediately the enemy reappeared on his port bow,
and so far as could be seen were made out to be five or six battleships with
THE POMMERN SUNK
leading and old ships in the rear. The
conditions were almost perfect for attack. The position of the leading destroyer
was excellent. It was already too light for the searchlights of the ships to be
of much use, and there was mist enough to make the darting destroyers a very
difficult target. In high expectation the Faulknor led off with two torpedoes, one at the second in the line and one at the third.
The Obedient followed with two
torpedoes, and then the Marvel and Onslaught with four each. The Mindful, being unable to make the speed,
owing to boiler defects, had steered straight for the enemy before the turn,
but being masked by the other destroyers as they passed was unable to get in a
shot. Gallant as was her attempt she was thus denied a part in this memorable
attack. It had been carried through to the end in the most brilliant manner in
the face of a heavy and well‑controlled fire. This came not only from the
battleships, but also from three cruisers in rear of them which, after starting
to chase the Faulknor, turned back to
meet the destroyers. So hot and accurate indeed was their greeting that the
result of the attack could not be seen. All they knew was that in the middle of
the enemy's line there had been a terrific explosion and one battleship had entirely
disappeared (2.10). On our own side all got away by using a smoke screen with
little or no damage, except the Onslaught,
the last in the line. She was hit on the bridge as she turned away after her
last shot, and her captain, Lieutenant‑Commander A. G. Onslow, together
with his first lieutenant, was killed.
The ship that had gone was the Pommern, and no trace of her or her unhappy
crew was ever seen again. With her were lost 844 officers and men. What part of
the fleet the flotilla had struck was difficult to tell, since the squadron
attacked seemed to contain both Dreadnoughts and pre-Dreadnoughts. But
there is no doubt that it was the rear of the battle fleet. The battle cruisers
were astern and the bulk of the Dreadnoughts had already passed ahead of our
flotilla. But owing to the previous efforts of our destroyers the German
dispositions for the night had been thrown into some disorder. As attack
followed attack, ships had been constantly forced to haul out of the line and
circle till they could find a place in which to re‑enter it, and thus
stations had been lost and even squadrons intermingled. (Hase, Kiel and Jutland, p. 220. "We had
frequently to stop because the whole line ahead of us was thrown into disorder
by the numerous destroyer attacks.... Ships were frequently hauling out of the
line and steering a circular course, and had to take station again wherever
they could. In this way the Nassau,
originally second ship in the line, gradually fell into the last place and
became our next ahead.")
June 1, 1916
The High Seas Fleet was thus in a worse
condition than ever for the fully expected renewal of the battle. The Horn
Reefs light-vessel was still some thirty miles ahead, daylight was making
fast, and anxious eyes, aching for want of sleep, scanned the brightening
horizon for what still lay between them and safety. Yet, precious as was every
mile gained, they could not hold their course, and under Captain Stirling's
fierce attack they were forced once more to turn away.
Though the movement lost them ground, it
saved them from the rest of the flotilla. Commander Champion in the Maenad had led the 2nd Division (Narwhal, Nessus, Noble) round
after the 1st, but, believing that Captain Stirling's intention was to close
the enemy and attack to starboard, he had trained his tubes in that direction,
and was not ready. However, not to be denied, he held on until he was able to
fire one tube on the port side. Then, swinging both tubes to starboard, he
turned back alone and closed to within 5,000 yards. The position was, of
course, unfavourable, and in spite of the bold manner in which he pushed home
his attack no ship was sunk, though at the time it appeared to the captain of
the Maenad that a torpedo hit the
fourth ship in the line, causing a terrific explosion. The Narwhal, his next astern, had also got in two shots from the port
side with no better effect, but the rest of the division could not attack at
all. As for the 3rd Division it had no better luck, being apparently headed off
by the enemy's cruisers. Its leader the Marksman had disappeared, and the Opal, as
soon as they were clear, led them round to the southward after the battle fleet
with the rest of the Maenad's
division following their lead.
Meanwhile, the Champion, with her two destroyers, Obdurate and Moresby,
which were still with her, had heard the firing as she came down from the
northward, and at 2.15 turned to the westward towards it. The movement brought
her in touch with the missing Marksman,
who followed her lead, and Captain Farie then led round to the southward
(2.25). As he did so, ships were clearly seen to the southward, and the Marksman asked the Champion what they were. Her reply was: "Germans, I
think," and for a while she held on towards them, but at 2.34 for some
reason she started to make another cast to the eastward. Unhappily the turn was
made a moment too soon, for by this time the Germans had resumed their course,
and as the Moresby, the rearmost of
the division, was following round, she had a glimpse through the mist of four
pre‑Dreadnoughts 4,000 yards to the westward, steering at full speed
south‑eastwards. "I considered action imperative," wrote her
THE LAST SHOT
Lieutenant‑Commander Alison, "hoisted
'Compass west,' hauled out to port and fired a high‑speed torpedo."
He had only one tube available, but an underwater concussion shook the
destroyer as she sped away to rejoin her division. Sure enough a hit had been
made, but not on the battleships. It was an attendant destroyer, V 4, that the torpedo found and sank,
and the two forlorn rear squadrons of the enemy passed on unscathed after the
Dreadnoughts with no unit of the Grand Fleet left between them and home.
spirited effort was the last stroke of the long‑drawn battle. But Admiral
Jellicoe had not yet given up hope of being able to deliver the blow which he
had been prevented from striking when he first deployed. Unfortunately the
wireless signal which Captain Stirling had sent at 1.52, immediately before his
attack, never got through. Twenty minutes later, when the enemy had turned away
for the second time, Captain Stirling sent another saying, " Enemy steering
south‑south‑west," a course which was approximately direct for
the Iron Duke. Both signals were
repeated, but neither reached the flagship. Since 11.30 Admiral Jellicoe had
had no information either from his cruisers or from Whitehall as to where the
Up to that time all the information showed
that Admiral Scheer was well to the northward of him and steering south. If so,
either he or Admiral Beatty ought soon to have sight of the enemy in the
brightening dawn. But all was uncertain. By two o'clock Admiral Jellicoe had
decided that if nothing was seen in another half‑hour, by which time it
would be full daylight, his best chance of regaining contact with the enemy was
to hark back, and accordingly at 2.15 he made the general signal that at 2.30
the battle fleet would turn north and form single line ahead in the "5th
Organisation." (That is, the 2nd Battle Squadron leading, followed by the 4th,
with the 1st Battle Squadron astern. The 5th Battle Squadron on rejoining station
Admiral Beatty, on the other hand, believed
the enemy to be to the westward of him, and he regarded it as his function
"to ensure that the enemy fleet did not regain its base by passing round
the southern flank of our forces." "My intention," he wrote on
June 12, "was to ask permission to sweep S.W. at daylight, but on
receiving a signal that the Commander‑in‑Chief was turning to the
north and ordering me to conform and close, I proceeded accordingly." (Jutland Despatches, p. 139.)
At this time the German fleet was actually
about thirty miles north‑eastward of the Iron Duke, and only about an hour's steaming from Horn Reefs.
Admiral Burney's division,
June 1, 1916
which had fallen fully twelve miles astern
of station, was little more than fifteen miles from the van of the enemy, but
the bulkheads of the Marlborough were
now showing signs of giving way, and Admiral Burney informed the Commander-in‑Chief
she could not be trusted to steam more than twelve knots. Now for the first
time he heard that the Marlborough's division was dropping astern, and as day
broke Admiral Gaunt, in the Colossus,
leading the remainder of the 1st Battle Squadron, reported that Admiral Burney
was not in touch, and the Commander‑in‑Chief found himself bereft
of a whole division of battleships. The Marlborough had fallen out of the line, but fortunately the first flush of the dawn
revealed the light cruiser Fearless,
which had been unable to keep up with the 1st Flotilla, following the division.
Signalling her to close (2.21), Admiral Burney was therefore able to shift his
flag to the Revenge. Then, by
direction of the Commander in‑Chief, he sent the Fearless back to escort the Marlborough into port, and with the Hercules and Agincourt held on to meet the fleet as
it came north, and resume his station.
The course the Commander‑in‑Chief
was steering was not the course for Horn Reefs, yet we know it had been his
fixed intention when he decided to proceed south through the night to close the
Horn Reefs at dawn if nothing at that time had been seen of the enemy, and by
stationing his flotillas five miles astern he had hoped it would not be
difficult to gain early touch with some of them at daylight. But Admiral
Scheer's bold push through them had upset all his plans. In the series of
desperate conflicts that had taken place the destroyers were scattered far and
wide, and to take the fleet right into the enemy's waters without cruiser and
destroyer cover was contrary to all principle. The best he could do was to
steer north till he could get his light forces about him. Even to proceed in
single line without them was to run no small risk, but he was still in hopes he
was between the enemy and their base. At any moment they might appear, and as
the morning was very misty, with a visibility of only three or four miles, he
must be ready for them on the instant. "Accordingly," he says, "I
deemed it advisable to disregard the danger from submarines due to a long line
of ships, and to form line of battle at once in case of meeting the enemy
battle fleet before I had been able to get in touch with my cruisers and
destroyers. " (Jutland Despatches,
So at 2.39 the King George V led round to starboard and, with the fleet in order
of battle, less Admiral Burney's three ships, which were still out of sight on
his starboard beam, and
with Admiral Evan‑Thomas two miles
ahead, the Commander-in‑Chief proceeded northwards in search of his
cruisers and flotillas, but without finding any trace of them. Nor was there
any indication of the approach of Commodore Tyrwhitt with the Harwich Force to
fill their place. He was still being held at his moorings, for, at the
Admiralty, the intelligence they had was not considered full or clear enough to
make certain that the whole of the High Seas Fleet was with Admiral Scheer. If
part of it had been kept back there was thought to be still a possibility of a
raid in the southern area. Whether or not their hesitation has to be set down
as an excess of caution, matters little. For had Commodore Tyrwhitt been
permitted to proceed at 5.0 p.m. the previous day, when the signal, "Fleet
action imminent" was received, he could not have been in touch with the
Grand Fleet till 4.0 a.m. without exhausting the destroyers fuel, and then, as
will be seen, it would have been too late for his arrival to affect the
For about half an hour Admiral Jellicoe held
on and no signal reached him to throw light on the movements of the enemy's
battle fleet. (See Diagram 46.)
Diagram 46 - The First of June. From 3 A.M. to Noon
The prospect of coming upon it in the mists
that shrouded the horizon was growing more and more remote as the eager minutes
passed, but hope was still keen for a sight of ships that had been maimed.
About 3.0 an important signal from the Admiralty reached him, telling him that
enemy submarines were coming out from German ports, and that a damaged German
ship, the Luetzow, was at midnight
in Lat. 56¼26 N., Long. 5¼41 E., steaming south at seven knots. (This message
was timed 1.48, and received on board the Iron
Duke at 2.40. It was received by the Lion through the New Zealand at 4.10, and
from the Commander‑in‑Chief direct at 3.40.)
He shortly after signalled to Admiral
Jerram, who was leading the fleet, to look out for a damaged battle cruiser
ahead, when suddenly hope grew hot. Firing, which rapidly increased in
intensity, was heard to the west‑south‑west. It might well mean
that the battle cruisers had fallen in with the enemy, and he acted
immediately. At 3.42 the fleet was turned sharply towards the sound of the
guns, and he himself resumed "Guide of Fleet" in readiness to deal
promptly with anything that might suddenly loom up out of the haze. But he was
doomed to disappointment. It was but the Indomitable and some of the 3rd Light Cruiser Squadron driving off an airship which was
observing the movements of Admiral Beatty's force, and in ten minutes the
June 1, 1916
Commander‑in‑Chief turned north
again in line ahead and Admiral Jerram resumed the duty of "Guide."
There was now less hope than ever of
bringing the enemy to action unless he could gather his destroyers, and he was
still bent on finding them. By this time he knew there was no hope of the
Harwich Force arriving in time to be of any use. Shortly after 3.0, when all
fear of a raid on the southern area had passed away, the Admiralty had at last
ordered Commodore Tyrwhitt to sea, and at 3.20 they sent a signal to the
Commander‑in‑Chief to say that five light cruisers and thirteen
destroyers had been ordered from Harwich to a rendezvous close to where he then
was (Lat. 55¼30 N., Long. 5¼0 E.), to join him and replace vessels requiring
fuel. But Commodore Tyrwhitt did better. By 3.50 he had slipped and was away
with five light cruisers, two flotilla leaders and sixteen destroyers. This
splendid force could now have no effect, not even had it arrived an hour before
it actually started, and Admiral Jellicoe's only hope was quickly to find his
own flotillas. So he held on to the northward, and as he did so an airship
appeared. For three minutes it was engaged by the whole battle fleet, but it
It was now fairly clear that the enemy must
know his position, but he was entirely ignorant of theirs, and was continuing
northward to find his flotillas, of which he was still without news. Captain
Stirling it is true, with some of the 12th Flotilla had just got in touch with
Admiral Burney's division, and was able to report his successful action with
the German battleships, far to the north on a south‑east course. Of this
the Commander‑in‑Chief was still unaware when, about 4.15, he read
a startling message from the Admiralty. It was to say that at 2.30 the German
main fleet was in a position only sixteen miles from Horn Reefs light‑vessel,
steering south‑east by south at 16 knots. (Received in the Iron Duke at 3.55 a.m. The time of
origin of this message was 3.29 and the position given Lat. 55¼33 N, Long. 6¼50
E. Between 11.15 p.m. May 31 and 1.25 a.m. June 1, seven German signals had
been deciphered in the Admiralty but were not passed on to Admiral Jellicoe.
Each of these messages conveyed the information that the High Seas Fleet was proceeding
home via the Horn Reefs Passage. See Appendix J.)
For Admiral Jellicoe, therefore, there could
be no illusions, but Admiral Beatty, who possibly may not yet have received the
Admiralty message, still clung to his own appreciation. Convinced apparently
that the northerly search must be wrong, at 4.4 he sent a message to the
Commander‑in‑Chief pointing out that the enemy when last seen was
to the westward, proceeding slowly S.W., and begged to be allowed to
sweep in that direction to locate them. (The
Admiralty message was passed to the Lion by the New Zealand at 3.54. The time
of origin of Admiral Beatty's request to the Commanderin‑Chief is given
as 3.50, the time of despatch being 4.4.)
With the better information at his disposal
the Commander‑in‑Chief could not agree to the proposal, and Admiral
Beatty had to content himself with spreading his light cruisers well to the
westward and ordering them to be careful to keep visual touch with him by
linking ships. Then, a little later, refusing to admit that the enemy had
slipped through our fingers, he made a signal to enhearten his men.
"Damage yesterday," it ran, "was heavy on both sides. We hope to‑day
to cut off and annihilate the whole German Fleet. Every man must do his
The Commander‑in‑Chief had no
such hope. He saw too plainly the bitter truth that there was now no
possibility of recovering the lost chance of the vital hour when he had first
caught his skilful adversary unawares, and the latter, aided by misty
conditions, had effected his escape. Admiral Jellicoe was already breaking up
his line of battle, and by 4.30 the divisions of the fleet were turning into
cruising order. It had scarcely settled down again on its northerly course when
Admiral Beatty, who was just coming into sight of the port division, received
from the Iron Duke the signal "Enemy
fleet has returned to harbour."
Admiral Jellicoe was right. At 3.30 the High
Seas Fleet had reached Horn Reefs. Since the first glimmer of dawn from every
ship anxious eyes had been strained into the veil of mist, expecting every
moment to find the Grand Fleet was upon them. The growing light revealed no
trace of it. Since Admiral Scheer now knew that five airships which he had
asked for were patrolling to seaward to protect him, he says he decided to wait
where he was to cover the retreat of the two battle cruisers which had been
unable to keep touch. (Scheer, High Seas
Fleet pp 163‑4. In the report of the airship L 11 she states that she was one of five airships which had gone up
about midnight "to cover the flank of the High Seas Forces.")
One of them, the Seydlitz, was not far away, coming slowly on, and in so precarious
a condition from her wounds that no one could tell how much longer she could
stand the strain of steaming. The other, Admiral Hipper's flagship, the Luetzow, about which the Commander‑in‑Chief
was specially concerned, was in a far worse case. When the Admiralty informed
Admiral Jellicoe of her position she was nearly a hundred miles W.N.W. of Horn
Reefs, and so heavily down by the bows that she could scarcely make any
headway. The end indeed was very near. Deeper and deeper sank her bows till
June 1, 1916
her propellers were out of water, and about
1.45 it was decided to abandon her. Four destroyers that were accompanying her
took off the survivors of her crew, and then one of them sank her with a
It was not till 3.30 that news of her fate
reached Admiral Scheer, and then, he says, "I had no difficulty in drawing
my own conclusions. As the enemy did not come down from the north, even with
light forces, it was evident he was retiring." (Scheer, High Seas Fleet, p. 164.)
This statement can only be accepted as a pardonable
gloss on the truth to soften for the public benefit the undesirable admission
that he withdrew the fleet in the face of the enemy. What actually happened he
tells elsewhere with sufficient candour. At 2.0 the most northerly of the
airship patrol reported that she had sighted a flotilla of enemy destroyers and
half a dozen submarines fifty miles west of Bovbjerg, which is sixty miles
north of Horn Reefs. They fired on her and she replied with bombs, but as our
nearest destroyer was thirty miles to the southward it would look as though she
had attacked the German flotilla which our destroyers had forced to make for
their base by way of the Skagerrak. So thick was the low‑lying mist over
the sea that the mistake was pardonable, but she soon made another. Carrying on
her reconnaissance to the northward as high as the Skagerrak she reported
having sighted in the Jammersbucht a group of twelve large battleships and
numerous cruisers proceeding south at high speed, but heavy cloud prevented her
keeping touch with them. (The Jammersbucht is a bay on the north‑west
coast of Denmark.)
Possibly this phantom fleet was a convoy: it
was certainly no part of the British forces, but the news went forward and must
have reached Admiral Scheer soon after he stopped off the Horn Reefs. About the
same time he received more accurate information from another airship, L 11. At 3.0 she had seen clouds of
smoke about half‑way between Horn Reefs and Terschelling, and ten minutes
later she reported what in the mist she took to be twelve large warships with
numerous light craft steering N.N.E. at full speed, but as they fired on her
she was forced to make away to the eastward. This was the battle cruiser fleet
making to close the Commander‑in‑Chief (Admiral Beatty was actually
steering N.N.E. at this time. L 11 reports fire was opened on her at 3.15, which accords with the reports of our
battle cruisers), but on receiving the report Admiral Scheer seems to have
drawn an entirely wrong inference. He concluded that what the L 11 had seen could only be a new force
"which had just come up from the channel on
hearing news of the battle to try to join up
with the Grand Fleet and advance against us." In view of the fact that L 24 had reported twelve large
battleships as far north as the Jammersbucht, the appreciation was natural, but
seeing that the northern force was said to be coming south at high speed, the
advance of a new force from the southward is not to be reconciled with his alleged
theory that his adversary was retiring. The action he took alone contradicts
his assertion. While lying off Horn Reefs he seems to have called for the state
of his ships. "The reports," he says, "received from the battle
cruisers showed that the 1st Scouting Group could no longer fight a serious
action. The ships in the van of the 3rd Squadron (i.e., the "Konig"
class Dreadnoughts) must also have lost in fighting value. Of the fast light
cruisers only the Frankfurt, Pillau and Regensburg were at my disposal. Owing to the bad visibility,
further scouting by airships could not be counted on. It was, therefore,
impossible to try to force a regular action on the enemy reported south. The
consequences of such an encounter would have been a matter of chance. I therefore
abandoned any further operations and gave the order to return to base." (Jutland Despatches, P. 598.)
This can be taken as a reasonably frank
statement of his reasons for leaving the field to the enemy, but further detail
is available. At 3.24 ‑ that is, within a few minutes of receiving from L 11 the report of the enemy to the
south, he ordered his remaining battle cruisers to go in. A quarter of an
hour later L 11, circling to the
eastwards, reported "six large battleships with lighter forces on a
northerly course." This was the rear of our battle fleet, and immediately
after sighting them the airship saw them make the westward turn by divisions
toward the sound of Admiral Beatty's guns that were still firing on her. It was
at some little time before this report reached Admiral Scheer that he ordered
the fleet to re‑form preparatory to going in. (At 3.38 he made the signal
for the fleet to re‑form, 2nd Scouting Group astern; 4th Scouting Group
ahead; destroyers to distribute for submarine screen; 2nd Battle Squadron to
lead in. The airship signal was timed 3.40.)
While the order was being executed L 11 was keeping touch with the last
seen squadron as being nearer to the High Seas Fleet than the first one, but
she soon saw another nearer still. It was Admiral Burney's division making to
the westward in conformity with the Commander‑in‑Chief's movement.
The Faulknor was just joining it with
the Obedient and Marvel, and the airship reported three battle cruisers and four
smaller craft bearing N.E. between her and the German fleet. This was at 3.50,
June 1, 1916
and at 3.54 Admiral Scheer made the general
signal "Course S.E. Proceed into harbour eastward of Amrum bank."
Owing to the impossibility of knowing to a
minute or two when the airship reports reached Admiral Scheer, we cannot follow
with absolute certainty their relation to his final movements. But the general
inference from the admitted facts is clear enough. Admiral Scheer on reaching
Horn Reefs had decided that his fleet had suffered too severely in the previous
day's fighting to be fit for a general action. Either when he decided to
withdraw or just afterwards he must have known that at least three strong
groups of British ships were near by to the westward and moving in a manner
which could only suggest they were concentrating with a view, as he said,
"of advancing upon him."
There was no indication whatever that they
were retiring, and his own position was impossible. He had no light cruisers
with which to form a screen; in the mists that shrouded the sea he could not
trust the airships, and he was consequently liable to be suddenly surprised by
a greatly superior force. In such circumstances he could not afford to risk
being brought to action, and the only safe course was to remove his fleet from
the board. This he decided to do, taking his sheaves with him; they were enough
for honour; and who shall blame his judgment, though it involved declining an
action with a fleet obviously bent on fighting and leaving an undefeated enemy
in possession of the field? That after being surprised by the concentrated
Grand Fleet he had so cleverly drawn his head out of the noose, and with so much
success to his credit, was enough to enrol his name high upon the list of fleet
But bold and skilful as he had been, he was
still far from safe. Directly ahead of him as he made for the security of the
Amrum channel were our three submarines, and beyond them the new minefield
which had been laid an hour or two earlier by Commander Curtis in the Abdiel. The submarines E 55, E 26 and D 1 had just
taken up the stations assigned to them under the plan of May 28, which had been
cancelled when the sortie of the Germans rendered it unnecessary. Their
position was equally good for the present situation. But unfortunately their
instructions under the cancelled plan were to lie on the bottom till June 2.
With these orders they had put to sea from Harwich on May 30, unaware of the
sudden change in the situation. For all they knew their old orders stood, and
the consequence was that they lay quietly on the bottom while the retiring
German fleet passed over them, all unconscious of the peril they had so
strangely escaped. Still they were not out of the wood. Between
them and safety they had yet to pass the Abdiel's minefields, and to pass them
without disaster could only be a miracle, seeing with what precision and
ingenuity the new field had been laid. From a position fifteen miles S.W of the
Vyl lightship Commander Curtis had run a line of forty mines spaced at ten to
the mile zigzagging on a mean course S. 9 E. Then turning S.34 W., he ran out
another forty in the same way. By 2.4 the thing was done and he was speeding
away north at thirty knots. So far as he could tell he had not been observed.
True the lights of three fishing vessels had been seen, but it was so dark,
with drizzling rain, and an overcast sky, that he felt sure they had not seen
his ship and still less what she was doing. Besides this field there was the one
he had also laid on May 4, or so much of it as had not been swept up in the
interval, and between the two the fairway was only about ten miles wide.
Though there was no reason to believe that
Admiral Scheer had any definite knowledge of the trap that had been laid for
him he was naturally taking ordinary precautions. The 4th Scouting Group was
disposed ahead, while all the destroyers present formed an anti‑submarine
screen. Care alone would scarcely have saved him from 'evere loss, but the good
fortune which his bold push had earned him was not yet exhausted. As Admiral
Scheer came down from the north‑westward he passed between the lightship
and the new minefield. But not unscathed. At 5.20 there was a loud explosion in
the van of the 1st Battle Squadron and the Ostfriesland was seen to be in trouble. She had in fact fouled one of the mines which the Abdiel had laid on May 4, but the cause
at first was not clear. No minefield was known to exist in the vicinity. An
impression that it was a more dreaded form of underwater attack seems to have
spread through the fleet and upset its equilibrium. "Several submarine
attacks on our main fleet as it returned," says Admiral Scheer, "failed
entirely," but we know that these attacks were but the outcome of overwrought
imagination. As the explosion died away he signalled "Keep on," and
in spite of the damage she had received the Ostfriesland was able to obey the order. No other casualty is recorded, though our submarines
report having heard up to 5.30 eleven explosions of varying intensity. There is
no reason, however, for believing they were caused by mines. The explanation is
probably due to an alarm not far removed from panic which the mishap to the Ostfriesland appears to have spread
through the overwrought fleet. Amongst the survivors from some of our lost
ships, who had been rescued by German destroyers
June 1, 1916
the previous afternoon, was an officer who
reports that the ship in which he was a prisoner of war began firing wildly at
phantom submarines, and we know that the Stettin about this time signalled that she was being fired on by one of her own battle
squadrons. By 6.30, however, the whole of the surviving German capital
ships were well out of reach, except possigly the Koenig, which had taken in so much water that she had to wait three
hours for the tide off Amrum bank before she could pass the channel, and the Seydlitz, which was approaching it in a
precarious condition. (Thirty‑six hours later the Seydlitz crawled into the Jade and beached herself at the entrance.)
During all this time Admiral Jellicoe was
scouring the seas off Horn Reefs in search of crippled enemy ships making for
the base. It was now his only hope, but some hope there was, since he knew the Luetzow at least had been left far behind.
At 4.30, as we have seen, he had formed cruising order for the double purpose
of reducing risk from submarine attack and of searching on a wider front. The
evolution was not yet complete when Captain Scott of the Dublin, who had lost company with Commodore Goodenough's squadron
during the night and was then steering north, reported an enemy cruiser in
sight with two destroyers. The position she gave was about fifteen miles to the
eastward of the Iron Duke, but it was
only approximate, for her navigator had been killed and her charts damaged, and
she must have been much nearer than she knew to Horn Reefs. For what she saw
admits of only one explanation.
Shortly after news reached the German fleet
that the Luetzow had been sunk and
that the four attendant destroyers were coming on crowded with her crew, a
signal was received to say that one of them had had her engines disabled and
was in tow. Commodore Heinrich, second leader of flotillas, immediately turned
back in the Regensburg to their
assistance, "regardless," as Admiral Scheer says, "as to whether
he might meet with superior English forces," a comment which scarcely harmonised
with his expressed conviction that his adversary had retired. The destroyers,
moreover, reported that they had twice encountered enemy cruisers and
destroyers, but that on each occasion they attacked and successfully made their
way into the Bight. It was in the second encounter the injured destroyer G 40 is said to have been disabled, and
it must have been the Champion and
the destroyers that were with her that did the mischief. At 3.30, with the Obdurate, Moresby, Marksman, and Maenad she was heading
SEARCH FOR THE
N.N.W. when she caught sight of four enemy
destroyers on the opposite course and engaged them. They certainly did not
attack, but, hurrying on, were quickly lost in the haze, and the Champion held on her course. When the Dublin caught her glimpse of the Regensburg she had already joined the
crowded destroyers and was steaming fast to the southward, but by this
time the mist had grown so thick that, even as Captain Scott was turning to
shadow her, she completely disappeared and nothing more was heard of her.
The Dublin report did not affect the Commander‑in‑Chiefs movements. He held on
north on the look‑out for the crippled enemy ships, but Admiral Beatty,
who had not parted with his destroyers, had also received her signal, and at
5.15, when he come into visual touch with the Iron Duke, he proposed making a sweep southward and eastward in
search of the ship the Dublin had
located, believing it must be the Luetzow.
This he did, turning at 5.43 to the south‑east and keeping that course
for half an hour, when, having sighted nothing, he altered to south. At 6.3
Admiral Jellicoe made a cast to the south eastward, and shortly afterwards
received a message, timed 5.30, from the Admiralty informing him that the Elbing was still afloat at 3.47 without
her crew in a position which was on his new course. But he sighted nothing.
About 7.0 a.m. Admiral Beatty sent a message
to say that if he sighted nothing by 7.30 he proposed making a sweep northeast.
The Commander‑in‑Chief's reply was to inform him of the Abdiel's minefield, and then that he
would sweep to the northward, while Admiral Beatty was to keep to the
eastward of him. Accordingly at 7.16 Admiral Jellicoe turned north, the 5th
Battle Squadron, which formed the starboard column of the fleet, being then
about thirty miles west‑north‑west of the Horn Reefs light‑vessel.
A quarter of an hour later Admiral Beatty swung round to N.N.E. Possibly owing
to an error in his reckoning he did not hold this course long enough to carry
out the Commander‑in‑Chief's instructions, but at 8.0 turned up
north in the wake of the Iron Duke,
some thirty miles astern.
Scattered far and wide over the waters which
the British fleet was thus quartering were the debris of the action. The battle
fleet on its northerly course was soon in the region in which the Germans had
stolen away astern. It was the scene of the thickest of the destroyer fighting,
and on all sides foul patches of oil, life‑buoys and floating bodies,
both friend and foe, told how deadly it had been. Further afield damaged ships
that had survived were struggling for
June 1, 1916
life in the solitude of the grey shroud that
wrapped the rising sea. The Sparrowhawk,
after the Contest had cut off her
stern, was able to creep slowly to the westward. In this helpless condition
about 8.30 her crew saw a large ship appearing slowly out of the mist, and she
was soon made out to be a three‑funnelled German cruiser. For ten minutes
they watched her waiting in breathless suspense for their end, when as by a
miracle she was seen to settle down and disappear.
What they saw was undoubtedly the light
cruiser Elbing, of the 4th Scouting
Group. Admiral Scheer reports that after her collision with the Posen she was abandoned and sunk about
the time of the Sparrowhawk's alarm.
The Rostock, the other light cruiser
which sank during the morning, had been disabled by one of our destroyer's
torpedoes in the night action with our 4th Flotilla. Though she was in a
sinking condition her captain was still clinging to her, and according to the
German Official History it was not till 4.25 that she eventually sank far to
the southward of the Sparrowhawk's
position. The helpless destroyer was now alone again for about an hour, when
she saw what appeared to be a submarine. The only remaining gun was manned, but
the object proved to be a life‑saving raft carrying the survivors of the Tipperary which had sunk at about 2.0
a.m. After over an hour's effort they managed to get alongside and she took them
off, and scarcely had she done so when she was gladdened by the sight of the Dublin and Marksman coming up out of the mist. The Marksman did all that was possible to take her in tow stern first,
but hours of work proved all in vain, and at 8.45 Admiral Burney, with whose
division they had come in touch, ordered her to be sunk by gunfire.
One of the other stricken destroyers, the Acasta, was still afloat and struggling
on with the last of her oil when she was picked up and taken in tow by the Nonsuch of the 12th Flotilla. (The Nonsuch towed the Acasta till the evening of June 1, when a trawler unit and tugs
were sent to their assistance. They were brought in to Aberdeen about 9.0 p.m.
on the 2nd.) Amidst the wreckage of the Ardent the Marksman rescued her captain,
Lieutenant‑Commander Marsden, while the Obdurate picked up two of his men, one of whom subsequently
succumbed. They had all been five hours in the water. Near by, about 5.0, the Maenad saved from a raft ten of the Fortune's crew. The Porpoise, escorted by the Garland,
made her way eventually into the Tyne, and so did the Spitfire without assistance.
As for the capital ships, all were in
station except the 6th
June 1‑2, 1916
Division and the damaged Marlborough and Warspite.
(The 6th Division re‑joined in the evening of June 1.) The former, with
the Fearless in company, was making
her way at moderate speed for the Tyne, steering at first a south westerly
course to clear the intervening minefield laid by the Germans in 1915. Owing to
her inability to maintain a sufficient speed there was considerable anxiety
that she might fall to the enemy's submarines, and Admiral Jellicoe had called
upon Commodore Tyrwhitt to send a division of destroyers to screen her.
But the Harwich Force was still far to the southward, and long before touch
with the Marborough could be obtained
the Germans had located her. About 10.0 she had sight of two enemy submarines,
which dived; course was altered away from them, and it was not till three‑quarters
of an hour later that she was attacked by the U 46. The torpedo came from astern, passed harmlessly to port, and
she went on her way. For three hours longer her peril continued. The Harwich
destroyers, which had been told off to her rescue, failed to find her, but by
2.0 p.m. she had sighted Commodore Tyrwhitt. He at once detached another
division to escort her; the first one joined shortly afterwards, and she was
thus able to proceed with little to fear from further submarine attack, and
arrived in the Humber at 8.0 a.m. on June 2.
The Warspite's adventures were much the same, but her danger was greater. After reporting
her speed reduced to sixteen knots at the opening of the battle fleet action
she had been ordered to make her way to Rosyth, and straight in her path was
part of the original submarine trap, for in consequence of the battle the "U" boats which had been stationed off our bases had been ordered to stay
out another day. Fortunately by dint of strenuous exertions in shoring
bulkheads and the like Captain E. M. Phillpotts in the morning had been able to
get a speed of nineteen knots, and was zigzagging when at 9.35 two torpedoes
(from the U 51) passed him close on
either side, but no submarine could be seen. He, therefore, at some risk
increased to twenty‑two knots and reported his danger to Rosyth. Escort
was at once despatched to meet him, and in a couple of hours two destroyers
appeared on the horizon, but at the same time a submarine (U 63) was sighted very close. Captain Phillpotts put his helm over
to ram her at full speed, and only missed by a few yards. The submarine was
unable to attack, and by 8.15 p.m. he was safe in Rosyth.
As for the Warrior, which had been saved from the immediate fate of the
rest of Admiral Arbuthnot's squadron, she had tried with engine rooms flooded
to make her way to Cromarty.
June 1, 1916
But her engines would hardly revolve, and
having fallen in with the seaplane carrier Engadine,
Captain V. B. Molteno ordered her to take him in tow. Together for about a
hundred miles they struggled on till by 7.0 a.m. it was clear the Warrior's bulkheads were giving way, and
that she could not float more than a few hours. While, therefore, it was still
possible, Captain Molteno ordered her to be abandoned. Very skilfully
Lieutenant‑Commander C. G. Robinson brought the Engadine alongside and took on board the whole of the Warrior's company. Then in mid‑sea
some 160 miles to the eastward of Aberdeen, with the seas washing over her
deck, she was left, and nothing more was ever seen of her. (The Engadine with the survivors from the Warrior arrived at Rosyth at 1.35 a.m.
on June 2.)
By about 8.50 the danger of the main fleet
from attack by the submarines which the Germans were hurrying out had passed.
Most of the battle fleet destroyers which were not disabled or obliged to make
for port for lack of fuel had rearmed, and the Commander‑in‑Chief
turned S.S.W., while Admiral Beatty kept on to the northward. As the battle
fleet worked back more drifting wreckage was encountered, life‑buoys
of the Black Prince and much else the
sea had claimed during the night. This course he held for an hour, till the
battle cruisers were in touch, and then at 10.0 turned again north by west. In
an hour's time he was once more amongst the wreckage which marked the trail on
which Admiral Scheer had stolen away. It was now eight hours since the German
fleet reached Horn Reefs, and during that time Admiral Jellicoe's ships had
been sweeping in an area sixty miles long by fifty broad, which to the south
was close up to the minefield danger area and to the east was twenty-five
miles from the Horn Reefs light‑vessel. In all that time, with the
exception of the momentary glimpse of the Regensburg,
no sign of the High Seas Fleet had been seen nor had any crippled ship been
encountered. Admiral Jellicoe now therefore made up his mind that further
search was useless, and at 10.44 he so informed the Admiralty. "The Harwich
Force," he signalled, "not required except for destroyers to screen Marlborough. Am ascertaining no
disabled ships are left and am returning to base. Whole area swept for disabled
enemy cruisers without result." That was the end, and just after 11.0 he
turned N.W. direct for Scapa, while Admiral Beatty, still apparently unwilling
to admit the disheartening truth, diverged N.N.E.
DISTRIBUTION OF THE SHIPS
OF THE GRAND FLEET BEFORE SAILING ON TUESDAY, MAY 30,1916, WITH THE NAMES OF
FLAG AND COMMANDING OFFICERS
sea‑going ships of the Grand Fleet were distributed between the three
northern bases as follows:‑
AT SCAPA FLOW
Iron Duke, Captain F. C. Dreyer, C.B. (Fleet Flagship). Flying the flag of Admiral
Sir John R. Jellicoe, G.C.B., K.C.V.O., Commander‑in-Chief; Vice‑Admiral
Sir Charles E. Madden, K.C.B., C.V.O., Chief‑of-Staff.
Destroyer: Oak, Lieut.‑Comm. D. Faviell,
Leader: Abdiel (fitted as a
minelayer), Commander B. Curtis.
Cruiser: Active, Captain P. Withers.
Carrier: Campania (Left Scapa at
11.45 a.m.; ordered back 4.37 a.m., May 31. See Note A, p. 326a), Captain O.
Balloon Ship: Menelaus (remained in
harbour), Commander C. W. N. McCulloch.
FIRST BATTLE SQUADRON
Marlborough, Captain G. P. Ross. Flying the flag of Vice‑Admiral
Sir Cecil Burney, K.C.B., K.C M.G., Second‑in‑Command of the Grand
Fleet; Captain E. P. F. G. Grant, Chief‑of‑Staff.
Revenge, Captain E. B. Kiddle.
Hercules, Captain L. Clinton‑Baker.
Agincourt, Captain H. M. Doughty.
Colossus, Captain A. D. P. R. Pound. Flying the flag of Rear‑Admiral E.
F. A. Grant C.M.G.
Collingwood, Captain J. C. Ley.
Neptune, Captain V. H. G. Bernard.
St Vincent, Captain W. W. Fisher, M.V.O.
Royal Sovereign (remained
in harbour), Captain A. T. Hunt, C.S.I.
Light Cruiser: Bellona,
Captain A. B. S. Dutton.
FOURTH BATTLE SQUADRON
Benbow, Captain H. W. Parker. Flying the flag of Vice‑Admiral Sir Doveton Sturdee,
Bt., K.C.B., C.V.O., C.M.G.
Bellerophon, Captain E. F. Bruen.
Temeraire, Captain E. V. Underhill.
Vanguard, Captain J. D. Dick.
Royal Oak, Captain C. Maclachlan.
Superb, Captain E. Hyde‑Parker. Flying the flag of Rear‑Admiral A. L.
Canada, Captain W. C. M. Nicholson.
Emperor of India (in
dockyard hands), Captain C. W. B. Royds. (Second Flagship of the Squadron.)
Light Cruiser: Blanche,
Captain J. M. Casement.
THIRD BATTLE CRUISER SQUADRON
Invincible, Captain A. L. Cay. Flying the flag of Rear‑Admiral The Hon. H. L.
A. Hood, C.B., M.V.O., D.S.O.
Indomitable, Captain F. W. Kennedy.
Inflexible, Captain E. H. F. Heaton‑Ellis, M.V.O.
Chester (belonging to the Third Light Cruiser Squadron) Captain R. N. Lawson.
Canterbury, Captain P. M. R. Royds.
SECOND CRUISER SQUADRON
(Organised on May 30 out of the ships of the old Second and
Seventh Cruiser Squadrons.)
Minotaur, Captain A. C. S. H. D'Aeth. Flying the flag of Rear‑Admiral H. L.
Hampshire, Captain H. J. Savill.
Cochrane, Captain E. La T. Leatham.
Shannon, Captain J S Dumaresq M.V.O.
Achilles (in dockyard hands), Captain F.M. Leake.
Donegal (on detached service), Captain W. H. D'Oyly.
FOURTH LIGHT CRUISER SQUADRON
Calliope, Commodore C. E. Le Mesurier.
Constance, Captain C. S. Townsend.
Captain A. G. Hotham.
Caroline, Captain H. R. Crooke.
Royalist Captain The Hon. H. Meade, D.S.O.
Tipperary, Captain C. J. Wintour (Captain D. IV).
Commander W. L. Allen.
Achates, Commander R. B. C. Hutchinson, D.S.O.
Porpoise, Commander H. D. Colville.
Spitfire, Lieut..Comm. C. W. E. Trelawny.
Lieut.‑Comm. A. M. Lecky.
Garland, Lieut.-Comm. R. S. Goff.
Ambuscade, Lieut.‑Comm. G. A. Coles.
Ardent, Lieut.‑Comm. A. Marsden.
Fortune, Lieut.‑Comm. F. G. Terry.
Sparrowhawk, Lieut.‑Comm. S. Hopkins.
Contest, Lieut‑Comm. E. G. H . Master.
Commander L. W. Jones.
Acasta, Lieut‑Comm. J. O. Barron.
Christopher, Lieut‑Comm. F. M. Kerr.
Commander R. G. Hamond.
Commander R. A. A. Plowden.
Lieut.‑Comm. J. R. C. Cavendish.
Ophelia (temporarily attached), Commander L. G. E. Crabbe.
Cockatrice (in dockyard hands)
Paragon (in dockyard hands)
Victor (remained in harbour)
PART OF ELEVENTH FLOTILLA
Cruiser: Castor, Commodore J. R. P.
Hawksley, M.V.O. (Commodore F., Captain D. XI).
Lieut.‑Comm. G. B. Hartford.
Manners, Lieut‑Comm. G. C. Harrison.
Michael, Lieut‑Comm. C. L. Bate.
Lieut.‑Comm. R. Makin.
Faulknor, Captain A. J. B. Stirling (Captain D. XII).
Marksman, Commander N. A. Sulivan.
Obedient, Commander G. W. McO. Campbell.
Maenad, Commander J. P. Champion.
Commander C. G. C. Sumner.
Mary Rose, Lieut.‑Comm. B. A. Homan.
Marvel, Lieut.‑Comm. R. W. Grubb.
Menace, Lieut.‑Comm. C. A. Poignand.
Nessus, Lieut.‑Comm. E. Q. Carter.
Narwhal, Lieut.‑Comm. H. V. Hudson.
Mindful, Lieut.‑Comm. J. J. C. Ridley.
Onslaught, Lieut.-Comm. A. G. Onslow, D.S.C.
Munster, Lieut.‑Comm. S. F. Russell.
Nonsuch, Lieut.‑Comm. H. I. N. Lyon.
H. P. Boxer.
Mischief, Lieut.‑Comm. The Hon. C. A. Ward, M.V.O.
Napier (in dockyard hands)
Mameluke (in dockyard hands)
SECOND BATTLE SQUADRON
King George V, Captain F. L. Field. Plying the flag of Vice‑Admiral
Sir Martyn Jerram, K.C.B.
Captain G. H. Baird.
Centurion, Captain M. Culme‑Seymour, M.V.O.
Captain The Hon. V. A. Stanley, M.V.O., A.D.C.
Captain O. Backhouse, C.B. Flying the flag of Rear‑Admiral A. C. Leveson,
Monarch, Captain G. H. Borrett.
Conqueror, Captain H. H. D. Tothill.
Thunderer, Captain J. A. Fergusson.
Cruiser: Boadicea, Captain L. C. S.
FIRST CRUISER SQUADRON
Defence, Captain S. V. Ellis. Flying the flag of Rear‑Admiral Sir Robert
Arbuthnot, Bt., M.V.O.
Warrior, Captain V. B. Molteno.
Duke of Edinburgh, Captain H. Blackett.
Black Prince, Captain T. P. Bonham.
PART OF ELEVENTH FLOTILLA
Leader: Kempenfelt, Commander H. E.
Ossory, Commander H. V. Dundas.
Mystic, Commander C. F. Allsup.
Morning Star, Lieut.‑Comm. H. U. Fletcher.
Lieut‑Comm. G. C. Wynter.
Mounsey, Lieut‑Comm. R. V. Eyre.
Mandate, Lieut.‑Comm. E. McC. W. Lawrie.
Minion, Lieut.‑Comm. H. C. Rawlings.
Martial, Lieut.‑Comm. J. Harrison.
Milbrook, Lieut. C. G. Naylor.
patrol; joined her flotilla about 2.0 p.m., May 31), Commander (acting) W. D.
Marmion (in dockyard hands).
Musketeer (in dockyard hands).
A. E. M. Chatfield, C.V.O. (Battle Cruiser Fleet Flagship). Flying the flag of
Vice‑Admiral Sir David Beatty, K.C.B., M.V.O., D.S.O. Captain R. W.
FIFTH BATTLE SQUADRON
Barham, Captain A. W. Craig. Flying the flag of Rear‑Admiral H. Evans-Thomas,
Valiant, Captain M. Woollcombe.
Warspite, Captain E. M. Phillpotts.
Malaya, Captain The Hon. A. D. E. H. Boyle, C.B., M.V.O.
Queen Elizabeth (in dockside hands), Captain G. P. W. Hope, C.B., A.D.C.
FIRST BATTLE CRUISER SQUADRON
Princess Royal, Captain W. H. Cowan, M.V.O., D.S.O. Flying the flag of Rear‑Admiral
O. de B. Brock, C.B.
Queen Mary, Captain C. I. Prowse.
Captain H. B. Pelly, M.V.O.
SECOND BATTLE CRUISER SQUADRON
New Zealand, Captain J. F. E. Green. Flying the flag of Rear‑Admiral
W. C. Pakenham, C.B., M.V.O.
Indefatigable, Captain C. F. Sowerby.
Australia (damaged in collision with New
Zealand 22 April 1916, in dockside hands), Captain S. H. Radcliffe.
FIRST LIGHT CRUISER SQUADRON
Galatea, Commodore E. S. Alexander‑Sinclair, M.V.O.
Phaeton, Captain J. E. Cameron, M.V.O.
Inconstant, Captain B. S. Thesiger, C.M.G.
Cordelia, Captain T. P. H. Beamish.
SECOND LIGHT CRUISER SQUADRON
Southampton, Commodore W. E. Goodenough, M.V.O., A.D.C.
Birmingham, Captain A. A. M. Duff.
Nottingham, Captain C. B. Miller.
Dublin, Captain A. C. Scott.
THIRD LIGHT CRUISER SQUADRON
Falmouth, Captain J. D. Edwards. Flying the flag of Rear‑Admiral T. D. W.
Yarmouth, Captain T. D. Pratt.
Birkenhead, Captain E. Reeves.
Gloucester, Captain W. F. Blunt, D.S.O.
PART OF FIRST FLOTILLA
Cruiser: Fearless, Captain C. D.
Roper (Captain D. I).
Acheron, Commander C. G. Ramsey.
Lieut.‑Comm. A. G. Tippet.
Attack, Lieut.‑Comm. C. H. N. James.
Lieut. F. G. Glossop.
Badger, Commander C. A. Fremantle.
Goshawk, Commander D. F. Moir.
Defender, Lieut.-Comm. L. R. Palmer.
Lizard, Lieut.‑Comm. E. Brooke.
Lapwing, Lieut.‑Comm. A. H. Gye.
Botha (in dockside hands)
Jackal (in dockside hands)
Archer (in dockside hands)
Tigress (in dockside hands)
Phoenix (remained in harbour)
Cruiser: Champion, Captain J. U.
Farie (Captain D. XIII).
Nestor, Commander The Hon. E. B. S. Bingham.
Narborough, Lieut.‑Comm. G. Corlett.
Obdurate, Lieut.‑Comm. C. H. H. Sams.
Petard, Lieut.‑Comm. E. C. O. Thornson.
Pelican, Lieut..Comm. K. A. Beattie.
Nerissa, Lieut.‑Comm. M. G. B. Legge.
Onslow, Lieut.‑Comm. J. C. Tovey.
Moresby, Lieut.‑Comm. R. V. Alison.
Nicator, Lieut. J. E. A. Mocatta
Nereus (in dockside hands)
Paladin (in dockside hands)
Pigeon (in dockside hands)
Nepean (remained in harbour)
PART OF NINTH FLOTILLA
Lydiard, Commauder M. L. Goldsmith.
Liberty, Lieut.‑Comm. P. W. S. King.
Landrail, Lieut.‑Comm. F. E. H. G. Hobart.
Laurel, Lieut. H. D. C. Stanistreet.
PART OF TENTH FLOTILLA
Moorsom, Commander J. C. Hodgson.
Morris, Lieut.‑Comm. E. S. Graham.
Turbulent, Lieut.‑Comm. D. Stuart.
Termagant, Lieut.‑Comm. C. P. Blake.
Engadine, Lieut.‑Comm. C. G. Robinson.
ORGANISATION OF THE GRAND
FLEET AS IT SAILED ON MAY 30, 1916
Iron Duke (Fleet Flagship)
Organisation No. 2
Organisation No. 5
| ||SECOND BATTLE SQUADRON|| |
King George V
| ||FOURTH BATTLE SQUADRON|| |
| ||FIRST BATTLE SQUADRON|| |
Attached Light Cruisers
| || || |
| ||THIRD BATTLE CRUISER SQUADRON|| |
1st CRUISER SQUADRON
2nd CRUISER SQUADRON
Duke of Edinburgh
| || || |
| ||FOURTH LIGHT CRUISER SQUADRON|| |
Light Cruiser: Canterbury
Castor (light cruiser)
BATTLE CRUISER FLEET
Lion (Fleet Flagship)
1st BATTLE CRUISER SQUADRON
2nd BATTLE CRUISER SQUADRON
FIFTH BATTLE SQUADRON
1st LIGHT CRUISER SQUADRON
2nd LIGHT CRUISER SQUADRON
3rd LIGHT CRUISER SQUADRON
|FIRST FLOTILLA||THIRTEENTH FLOTILLA ||NINE & TENTH FLOTILLAS|
Seaplane Carrier: Engadine
SHIPS OF THE HIGH SEAS
FLEET WITH THE NAMES OF FLAG AND COMMANDING OFFICERS, MAY 31, 1916
Friedrich der Grosse, Captain T. Fuchs (Fleet Flagship). Flying the flag of Vice‑Admiral
Scheer, Commander‑in‑Chief. Captain A. von Trotha, Chief‑of‑Staff.
FIRST BATTLE SQUADRON
Ostfriesland, Captain von Natzmer. Flying the flag of Vice‑Admiral
E. Schmidt. Commander W. Wegener, Staff Officer.
Captain Lange. Flying the flag of Rear‑Admiral Engelhardt.
Thueringen, Captain H. Kuesel.
Helgoland, Captain von Kameke.
Oldenburg, Captain Hoepfner.
Rheinland, Captain Rohardt.
Nassau, Captain H. Klappenbach.
Westfalen, Captain Redlich.
SECOND BATTLE SQUADRON
Deutschland, Captain H. Meurer. Flying the flag of Rear‑Admiral
Mauve, Squadron Commander. Commander Kahlert, Staff Officer.
Hannover, Captain W. Heine. Flying the flag of Rear‑Admiral Freiherr von
Dalwigk zu Lichtenfels.
Pommern, Captain Boelken.
Schlesien, Captain F. Behncke.
Schleswig Holstein, Captain Barrentrapp.
Hessen, Captain R. Bartels.
THIRD BATTLE SQUADRON
Captain Bruninghaus. Flying the flag of Rear‑Admiral Behncke, Squadron
Commander. Commander Freiherr von Gagern, Staff Officer.
Kaiser, Captain Freiherr von Kayserling. Flying the flag of Rear‑Admiral
Grosser Kuerfurst, Captain E. Goette.
Markgraf, Captain Seiferling.
Kronprinz, Captain C. Feldt.
Prinzregent Luitpold, Captain K. Heuser.
Kaiserin, Captain Sievers.
FIRST SCOUTING GROUP (BATTLE CRUISERS)
Luetzow, Captain Harder. Flying the flag of Vice‑Admiral Hipper, Commanding
the Scouting Forces. Commander E. Raeder, Staff Officer.
Seydlitz, Captain von Egidy.
Moltke, Captain von Karpf.
Derfflinger, Captain Hartog.
Von der Tann, Captain Zenker.
SECOND SCOUTING GROUP (LIGHT CRUISERS)
Frankfurt, Captain T. von Trotha. Flying the flag of Rear‑Admiral Boedicker.
Lieut.‑Comm. Stapenhorst, Staff Officer.
Pillau, Captain Mommsen.
Elbing, Captain Madlung.
Wiesbaden, Captain Reiss.
Rostock, Captain O. Feldmann.
Regensburg, Captain Heuberer.
FOURTH SCOUTING GROUP (LIGHT CRUISERS)
Stettin, Captain F. Rebensburg. Wearing the broad pendant of Commodore von Reuter.
Commander H. Weber, Staff Officer.
Muenchen, Commander O. Boecker.
Frauenlob, Captain G. Hoffmann.
Stuttgart, Captain Hagedorn.
Hamburg, Commander von Gaudecker.
(Each flotilla consisted of eleven destroyers, and was divided
into two half‑flotillas, the First Flotilla consisting of the 1st and 2nd
Half‑Flotillas, the Second Flotilla consisting of the 3rd and 4th Half‑Flotillas,
and so on.)
Rostock, Captain O. Feldmann. Wearing the broad pendant of Commodore Michelsen,
Commanding the Destroyer Flotillas. Commander Junkermann, Staff Officer.
Regensburg, Captain Heuberer. Wearing the broad pendant of Commodore Heinrich, Second‑in‑Command.
First Flotilla - 1st Half-Flotilla,
Lieut.-Comm. C. Albrecht, G 39. (Denotes
name of destroyer.)
Second Flotilla, Captain Schuur, B 98.
Half‑Flotilla, Commander Boest, G
Half‑Flotilla, Commander A. Dithmar, B
Third Flotilla, Commander
Hollmann, S 53.
Half‑Flotilla, Lieut.‑Comm. Gautier, V 71.
Half‑Plotilla, Lieut.‑Comm. Karlowa, S 54.
Fourth Flotilla, Commander Heinecke, G 11.
Half‑Flotilla, Lieut.‑Comm. Hoefer, V 2.
Lieut.‑Comm. F. Klein, G 8.
Sixth Flotilla, Commander M.
Schultz, G 41.
Lieut.‑Comm. W. Ruemann, V 44.
Lieut.‑Comm. Lahs, V 69.
Seventh Flotilla, Commander von
Koch, S 24.
Lieut.‑Comm. G. von Zitzewitz, S 15.
Half‑Flotilla, Commander H. Cordes, S
Ninth Flotilla, Commander Goehle, V 28.
Lieut.‑Comm. Ehrhardt, V 27.
Commander W. Tillessen, V 30.
Command of Submarines, Captain Bauer. (On board the Hamburg). Commander F. Luetzow, Stag Officer.
U 24, Lieut.‑Comm. R.
U 32, Lieut.‑Comm. Freiherr
Spiegel von und zu Peckelsheim.
U 63, Lieut.‑Comm. O.
U 66, Lieut.‑Comm. von
U 70, Lieut.‑Comm. Wuensche.
U 43, Lieut.‑Comm. Juerst.
U 44, Lieut.‑Comm. Wagenfuehr.
U 52, Lieut.‑Comm. H.
U 47, Lieut..Comm. Metzger.
U 46, Lieut.‑Comm. L.
U 22, Lieut.‑Comm. Hoppe.
U 19, Lieut.-Comm. R.
UB 22, Lieutenant Putzier.
UB 21, Lieut.‑Comm. E.
U 53, Lieut.‑Comm. Rose.
U 64, Lieut.‑Comm. R.
L 11, Commander V. Schuetze.
L 17, Lieut-Comm. H. Ehrlich.
L 14, Lieut-Comm. d. R. Boecker.
L 21, Lieut-Comm. M. d. R.
L 23, Lieut-Comm. von
L 16, Lieut,Comm.
L 13, Lieut-Comm. d. R. Proelss.
L 9, Captain (Army)
L 22, Lieut-Comm. M.
L 24, Lieut-Comm. R. Koch.
ORGANISATION OF THE HIGH
SEAS FLEET AS IT SAILED ON MAY 31, 1916
Friedrick der Grosse
First Scouting Group
Second Scouting Group
Fourth Scouting Group
Von der Tann
Rostock, Light Cruiser
Regensburg, Light Cruiser
First Leader of Torpedo Boats
Second Leader of Torpedo Boats
First Flotilla (1st Half)
LIST OF SHIPS SUNK